Police open sex abuse investigation against ZAKA founder Meshi-Zahav

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Meshi-Zahav on Friday forfeited on Friday his position as head of ZAKA as well as the Israel Prize he was set to receive this year.

Yehuda Meshi Zahav (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Yehuda Meshi Zahav

(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Israel Police opened a formal investigation Sunday into Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, who is suspected of sexually assaulting women and children over a period of decades.

Meshi-Zahav did not admit to the offenses, Kan News reported.

Meshi-Zahav on Friday forfeited on Friday his position as head of ZAKA as well as the Israel Prize he was set to receive this year.

Several people of different ages, including men, women and teenage boys and girls, came forward to recall their abusive experiences with Meshi-Zahav over the years. According to a report first published by Haaretz on Thursday, he was investigated by police in 2011 on sexual assault accusations, but the probe was closed due to a lack of evidence.

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The Lahav 433 police unit announced Saturday its intention to open the investigation into the sexual assault allegations on Meshi-Zahav.

As part of the investigation, the police indicated that investigators are planning to fly abroad to speak to victims abused by Meshi-Zahav and convince them to testify.

Sarah Ben-Nun, Tobias Siegal and Cody Levine contributed to this report. 

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