(September 15, 2020, Jerusalem, JNS Wire) It is terrifying to think that this has become routine – ZAKA Search and Rescue volunteers in Jerusalem today removed another decaying body of someone who lived alone, and died alone. This brings to 120 the annual total to date for the number of elderly and those living alone, who have remained undiscovered for days and even weeks after their death. This horrifying statistic has been exacerbated significantly by the corona crisis and serves as a warning sign as Israel moves into a second lockdown.
Once again, neighbors were alerted by a foul smell leaking into the stairwell of the building and alerted the authorities. This was the 16th such case in Jerusalem alone this year.
ZAKA Jerusalem volunteer Dudi Pines: “The victim, who lived alone, was 66 years old. The whole apartment was neglected and full of rubbish and garbage. The neighbors told us they had not seen him for several weeks and, because of the horrible smell, they called the police and the fire department who broke down the door. We found the decaying body of the deceased lying on the floor.” A team of ZAKA volunteers worked for many hours to clear the apartment and to prepare the deceased for removal to the Abu Kabir Institute for further examination and identification.
ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav: “We are genuinely concerned as we prepare for the closure that will begin this weekend. Since the beginning of 2020, ZAKA volunteers have dealt with 120 shocking and distressing incidents of the elderly and those living alone who have remained undiscovered for a long time after their death. Some of these incidents were as a direct result of the first lockdown in which tens of individuals were isolated from society and died alone – and were only found because of the foul smell emanating from their homes. It is frightening to think what the consequences of this second closure will be. Who will save them? Who will care for them? Most of the cases were not known to the social services. No one was there for them in their final hours.”
ZAKA International Director David Rose calls on all Israelis to take part in the ZAKA Call Once a Day campaign, which was launched earlier this year in order to combat this distressing trend. “All that is needed is a daily caring phone call or knock on the door of elderly neighbors or those living alone, just to check on them and to see if they need anything, especially during these isolated times. If you know someone who would benefit from regular contact, please let us know and we will arrange for a ZAKA volunteer to make those daily phone calls. As some of the elderly do not speak Hebrew, we will match up people according to their spoken language. We will ensure that they are not forgotten.”