In 1989, while studying in a yeshiva, Yehuda Meshi Zahav, the founder and chairman of ZAKA, and his fellow students were startled into reality by a thunderous boom, 2 minutes of silence and then scores of bloodcurdling screams. The number 405 bus was steered over the mountainside by a terrorist. The bus exploded and 17 people died and scores were injured. Yehuda and his colleagues rushed to the scene and began to care for the wounded and dead. It was chilling and horrifying chaos, Yehuda relates. For six years after this incident Meshi Zahav and a dedicated group of volunteers continued this work of Chesed Shel Emet, the work that "makes God smile". The volunteers of ZAKA selflessly overcame the horror of terrorist attacks to recover human remains - fulfilling the biblical commandment to bury the dead "on the same day."
ZAKA became an official organisation in 1995. It began as an organisation that was responsible for the recovery and identification of body parts, Chesed Shel Emet. Since its inception, the organisation has grown to include its Motorcycle Unit for Rapid Rescue, the Search and Rescue Unit and departments handling public education and community services.