Israel’s rescue chief steps down over sexual assault claims

JERUSALEM (AP) — The pinnacle of Israel’s famend ZAKA rescue service stepped down from his publish on Friday and relinquished a prestigious nationwide prize amid sexual assault allegations relationship again to the Eighties.

Israeli media mentioned police opened an investigation.

In a press release, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, 61, denied the allegations detailed by the Haaretz day by day a day earlier. The newspaper mentioned it had interviewed six accusers and obtained proof of sexual assault and exploitation going again many years, together with of youngsters and youthful kids.

The allegations surfaced simply days after Meshi-Zahav was awarded the nation’s most prestigious honor, the Israel Prize, for his work in ZAKA, the search and rescue group he co-founded.

The group, drawing from hundreds of volunteers, grew to become internationally recognized within the Nineties when it responded to a wave of assaults by Palestinian militants.

In a letter addressed to ZAKA volunteers and launched Friday, Meshi-Zahav rejected the allegations in opposition to him. He mentioned that “these tales are unfounded, gossip and the settling of scores in opposition to me.”

He mentioned he was briefly stepping down from his publish due to concern over the “injury which may be brought about because of this to this necessary group.” He additionally mentioned he was additionally relinquishing the Israel Prize.

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