A disgraced former rescue chief, who is facing allegations of sexual assault, rape and other abuse, is in a critical condition after a suicide attempt, health officials said Thursday.
Allegations against Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, who co-founded the ZAKA emergency response organization, emerged last month following an investigation by Haaretz newspaper. According to allegations, which date back to 1980s, he took advantage of his status, power, money and even the organization he heads to sexually assault women and children.
Meshi-Zahav's son, who was not at home at the time of the incident, called Magen David Adam emergency services, who arrived at the scene and evacuated him to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Oshrat Mualem, one of the first paramedics who arrived at the scene, said the picture at the house was "shocking".
"I got a call about a suicide and left immediately. I arrived at the house with two other paramedics. We opened the door, went upstairs, to the balcony, and saw what we saw. We managed to resuscitate him, then I went up to his wife and sat down with her."
The hospital said the condition of the former ZAKA chairman has stabilized since his arrival at the medical center.
Meshi-Zahav, who last month won the Israel Prize life achievement award for his contributions to Israeli society, was investigated in the early 2010s on suspicion of sexual assault, but the investigation was closed due to lack of evidence when his accuser refused to file a formal complaint.