The decaying body of a 70-year-old man was found in Jerusalem on Sunday, the sixth time an elderly person was discovered long after their death this month in the city, and the 18th time this year.
Members of the ZAKA emergency response group discovered the man’s body early Sunday in his home. He had likely died weeks before, Channel 12 news reported.
Haim Belech, head of ZAKA in Jerusalem, said that elderly people dying alone in their homes was a growing problem.
He suggested that large families in Jerusalem could in fact contribute to the problem by causing a bystander effect, whereby relatives assume others are taking care of the elderly in their families.
“Even today I remember one case, an ultra-Orthodox man in a Haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem. We checked afterward and there were no fewer than 300 family members, and no one visited him until over a week after he died, when they called for Hatzalah emergency services. Everyone thought that everyone else talked to him or went to visit him but actually, he died alone in his apartment,” Belech said.
The response group issued a public appeal to Israelis to check on their elderly relatives, neighbors, and friends.
“We’ve always had cases like this, and we now understand the importance of informing the public. When people pay attention to their neighbors, to their family, it prevents sad cases like this, that could have been prevented with a simple phone call or a knock on the door,” Belech said.