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Ex-Zaka leader Yehuda Meshi-Zahav attempts suicide amid molestation probe

(JTA) — Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, a former leader of the Zaka emergency response organization in Israel, is in critical condition after trying to take his own life Thursday amid allegations that he had sexually assaulted minors.

Meshi-Zahav, 61, was rushed to the hospital in Jerusalem with life-threatening injuries, but medical personnel succeeded in stabilizing his condition, Ynet reported.

A paramedic who arrived on the scene in Givat Zeev, near Jerusalem, said the aftermath was “a shocking scene,” the report said. Meshi-Zahav’s son called emergency services.

Last month, Haaretz published an article alleging that Meshi-Zahav, a prominent rabbi, had molested multiple boys, girls and women – a claim he has categorically denied. The police launched a criminal investigation into the allegations following the Haaretz report.

The most recent incident occurred in 2011, according to the alleged victim, a young woman from haredi Orthodox circles.

Meshi-Zahav, last month was named a laureate of the Israel Prize, Israel’s highest civilian distinction, for his work to build bridges between secular and religious Israelis. He told Haaretz that their expose on him “included vague, anonymous claims that go back decades. Let me say immediately that they are baseless.”

Israel’s Channel 12 is scheduled to air a documentary soon on the allegations against Meshi-Zahav.

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