Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, chairman and founder of ZAKA, said on Sunday that he would be willing to go into Gaza to recover the bodies of St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul and Sec.-Lt. Hadar Goldin, who went missing in action in the Strip.
He wrote to Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, that if given proper protection, either he and his Jewish colleagues or Palestinians who volunteered for ZAKA, would try to identify body parts and return them for Jewish burial.
Meshi-Zahav, formerly of the anti-Zionist Natorei Karta sect, said to Serry that his organization had received UN recognition for its work in recovering bodies in Israel and in disaster areas around the world.
“As a UN -recognized international humanitarian volunteer organization in recovering human remains of disaster victims, we turn to you, as the UN representative in the Middle East, to help facilitate the return of the soldiers’ body parts,” he wrote.
“We ask that the UN exerts its influence to make this happen...
as a humanitarian body that works with all peoples, regardless of religion, race, creed and politics, to work with the relevant people and to help ensure that ZAKA volunteers be allowed into Gaza to recover the remains, in respect of humanitarian law and in keeping with Jewish halachic laws,” Meshi-Zahav stated.
“With highly-trained volunteers around the world, we have years of experience and expertise in assisting with major international humanitarian disasters. From mass casualty terror attacks in New York, Turkey, Mombasa and Taba to natural disasters in Thailand, Japan, the USA , Haiti and the Philippines, ZAKA volunteers have helped recover remains and provide emergency medical support.”
Meshi-Zahav told The Jerusalem Post that if he and other Gaza volunteers were protected and allowed to go into the Strip, he would go in disguise so as not to alert suspicion. He said that they had done it before, without getting into details.
Meanwhile, the United Hatzalah organization held a special meeting for its volunteers who rescued victims of terrorism during Operation Protective Edge – and to relieve the emotional trauma they suffered from what they had witnessed.
A psychiatric expert on post-traumatic stress disorder, Dr. Yitzhak Ben-Zion, told them it was natural to suffer from nightmares and other phenomena.
“It wouldn’t be normal not too.”
The doctors, medics and paramedics in the Ashdod branch of the organization recalled their experiences. One said that the noise of the rockets and the bloody scenes return to him periodically.
Ben-Zion, who is a United Hatzalah volunteer in his free time, said people who survive catastrophe and feel they have been given the gift of life, should talk about their experiences to all who are willing to listen. He said it was a way to endure and that “even black humor helps cope and is permissible.”