יהודה משי זהב
Former ZAKA head Yehuda Meshi-Zahav
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Former ZAKA head Yehuda Meshi-Zahav

Police previously investigated ZAKA head for rape allegations

Investigators looked into suspicions of sexual assault against Yehuda Meshi-Zahav in early 2010s but the State Prosecutor decided to drop the case after his accuser refused to file a formal complaint

Eli Sinyor |
Published: 03.15.21 , 18:24
Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the former chairman of the ZAKA voluntary community emergency response organization who was facing allegations of rape and sexual assault, was investigated by police for similar allegations in 2013, but the State Prosecutor decided to drop the case despite incriminating evidence against him, Ynet has learned on Monday.
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  • Lahav 433 National Fraud Investigations Unit investigators acquired the evidence while probing alleged financial irregularities within the organization which raised suspicions of sexual offenses on Meshi-Zahav's part.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    יהודה משי זהב
    יהודה משי זהב
    Former ZAKA head Yehuda Meshi-Zahav
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    Available information shows there were two ongoing investigations against Meshi-Zahav and ZAKA. Investigators had received a warrant to wiretap his phone, with some intercepted communications raising suspicions of an alleged rape taking place at a bed and breakfast in the Jerusalem area.
    Prosecutors eventually decided to drop the cases, saying they could not continue under the current circumstances.
    The rape investigation was launched in 2013 following a report by journalist Kalman Liebskind that claimed that Meshi-Zahav had employed members of his family in ZAKA, failed to report large sums of donations, paid for trips abroad using the organization's funds. The report also claimed ZAKA's books were marred with discrepancies.
    The probe raised the first evidence Meshi-Zahav's alleged sexual misconduct while investigators were questioning members of his family.
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    להב 433
    להב 433
    Lahav 433 headquarters in Ramle
    (Photo: Orel Cohen)
    A female suspect in the first responder's fraud case told investigators about several events that involved Meshi-Zahav and several young women at several bed and breakfasts in the Jerusalem area. Police presented the woman's testimony in court in a request to wiretap Meshi-Zahav's cellphone.
    Investigators have intercepted two calls that were deemed suspicious. One regarding the rape of a woman, and another regarding sexual misconduct with a woman at a bed and breakfast in the Jerusalem area with whom he was believed to have a secrecy agreement.
    The National Fraud Investigations Unit reached out to both women and took their statements which led police to several other suspected victims in Rehovot's ultra-Orthodox community. Investigators closed the case after the alleged victims refused to testify.
    Police launched on Sunday another investigation against Meshi-Zahav after Haaretz newspaper published an article last week featuring six testimonies accusing him of sexual assault, rape, and abuse.
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    תקיפה מינית
    תקיפה מינית
    (Illustration: Shutterstock)
    The allegations came from both men and women, some of whom were minors at the time of the alleged events. Over a dozen other testimonies have emerged since, TV reports said, though it remains unclear how many fall under the statute of limitations.
    Meshi-Zahav later arrived at Lahav 433 headquarters in Ramle to give a testimony but was turned away by officers who claimed he had yet to be summoned for questioning.
    Earlier this month,
    Meshi-Zahav was named earlier in the month the winner of the prestigious Israel Prize life achievement award for his contributions to Israeli society but later forfeited the award after the allegations against him surfaced.
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