Voluntary rescue organization ZAKA is to expand its activities and set up units among the non-Jewish population in the north of Israel, Ynet has learned. The step was agreed during a meeting Sunday at the Galilee Development Authority in which ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav and Deputy Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galil Ayoob Kara (Likud) were present. The first units will be set up in the Druze towns of Beit Jann and Yirka.
Until now, ZAKA has dealt with the Jewish sector alone – mostly victims of road accidents and terror attacks. In some cases, in response to police requests, ZAKA also handles the bodies of other sectors.
Meshi-Zahav (L) and Kara (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yeshuv)
Now, in keeping with the program initiated by Kara, volunteers in Druze and Arab towns will be trained by ZAKA staff in programs financed by the Galilee Development Authority, until they are able to become full-fledged ZAKA staff.
ZAKA operations officer for the north, Hezki Farkash, said the new units would be trained to operate according to the religious and ethnic customs of the residents of the region.
"Just as in our courses a rabbi guides us on how to handle the deceased, in courses for the new volunteers there'll be a sheikh or qadi (Druze religious leader)," Farkash said.
"This is without doubt holy work," said Kara, adding it was a crime that it had taken 62 years to set up such units and contribute to full equality for all Israeli citizens. "I am sure many incidents would have received different treatment if these units had been set up in the past. Equality in Israel must be the lot of all citizens, both the living and the dead."
Meshi-Zahav expressed his hope that the project would bring Jews and minorities in the Galilee closer and offer solutions for daily life and emergency situations for the Druze, Circassian and Arab villages.
The first two new units should be operational by the beginning of 2011. In total, some four new units will be created. The new units will join a unit which is already operational among the Bedouin population in the south, or the Hatzalah branch in east Jerusalem which provides first aid services.
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