Israeli Rescue Team Arrives in French Alps to Help Recovery of Downed German Plane
A delegation of eight ZAKA International Rescue Unit volunteers flew in to assist in the search and recovery mission at the site of the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps on Monday morning. ZAKA volunteers will offer their extensive experience and expertise in international search and recovery missions to the local search teams.
The team was led by ZAKA International Rescue Unit head Mati Goldstein and ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief of Operations Chaim Weingarten.
In particular, the ZAKA volunteers will work to recover, identify, and bring the remains of Israeli Eyal Baum to a full Jewish burial in Israel. Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, agreed to the request of the Baum family to bring a ZAKA delegation from Israel to assist in the recovery operation. ZAKA volunteers have been on standby to fly out to the crash scene since offering their assistance last week.
At the request of the family of Israeli victim, Eyal Baum, Lufthansa paid for the team of ZAKA volunteers from Israel to help in the search and recovery efforts at the site. The Israeli ZAKA team members along with volunteers from ZAKA France, were helicoptered into the crash site, where they immediately set up a ZAKA command center and began working, in cooperation with the local and international recovery teams.
Goldstein stated that “Our mission is to ensure a full Jewish burial for Eyal Baum, and to assist the international teams in the search and recovery efforts.”
On Tuesday, March 24, the Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into the French Alps, killing 144 passengers, among them 16 schoolchildren, and six crew members. The co-pilot deliberately crashed the German Airbus according to Lufthansa officials and investigators.
ZAKA, a UN-recognized humanitarian organization founded in 1989, can deploy anywhere in the world within hours according to the organization’s website.
Commenting on the French Alps location of the crash site, Goldstein said that the terrain would be challenging. “It is difficult terrain to cover, but we are prepared to work for as long as it takes,” said Goldstein.