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Emergency Exercise - Hundreds of Fatalaties in Nature Reserve

ZAKA volunteers took part in an exercise which simulated a disaster which would result in 500 casualties.
By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 6/21/2011, 9:38 PM / Last Update: 6/22/2011, 4:14 AM

As part of the Turning Point 5 national home front drill, volunteers from the ZAKA Rescue & Recovery Organization took part on Tuesday in an exercise which simulated a disaster which would result in 500 casualties.

The drill took place in a park near Rosh Ha’ayin and simulated a scenario in which families of Israelis that were forced to flee their homes due to rocket attacks set up a tent in the park. In the game, the tent itself is later hit by missiles.

“Our mission at ZAKA is recovery,” explained Dovi Maisel, ZAKA’s Chief of International Operations. “We work with all the different agencies – whether it’s IDF, Magen David Adom, fire department etc. – in order to coordinate the recovery of all the bodies and bringing them to proper burial.”

ZAKA, explained Maisel, does not identify the victims but rather gathers all the information about the victim in order to make the actual identification process much quicker for forensics.

“We’re not coming to take anybody’s place,” he clarified. “Rather, [we] assist in times of emergencies in dealing with these bodies.”

ZAKA’s operations are being conducted out of an important Jewish value, noted Maisel.

“[The Torah] says that man was created in G-d’s shadow,” he said. “So, obviously if G-d forbid there are fatalities we need to make sure to bring them to proper respectable burial, and that’s our mission.”