Judea and Samaria District Police arrested eight people yesterday who are suspected of leading a cult that forced women into prostitution and took sexual advantage of them when they were under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
The suspects allegedly told the women they had to have sex with non-Jewish men “to save the Jewish people and expedite the redemption.”
The police launched an undercover investigation four months ago after a complaint was filed by a woman who said the cult was exploiting its female recruits. Police say the cult, which operated all over the country, induced women into believing that the redemption of the Jewish people would arrive through having sex with non-Jews. The “clients” included Palestinians from the West Bank and foreign workers living in Tel Aviv, among others.
The suspects include two Kiryat Arba residents, a 60-year-old man and his 40-year-old wife; a 47-year-old Ashkelon man and a 39-year-old Jerusalem woman. No information about the other four was made available last night. The cult leaders allegedly took money from the non-Jewish men money to have sex with the women and tried “to return the girls to religion” through their sexual relations with the non-Jewish men.
The cult leaders made the women dependent on them by supplying them with drugs and alcohol and forced them to have sex under the influence of these substances.
Supt. Arik Mordechai, the investigations officer in the Judea and Samaria Police central unit, said that a total of eight people had been arrested, including two women whose job it was to recruit the women who were to be pimped. He said 15 women were recruited by the cult, and some are apparently minors. The police have involved the welfare authorities, he said.
The Kiryat Arba-Hebron Local Council said in a statement that over six months ago welfare officials had heard rumors of certain violations involving the couple, but when family members were questioned they categorically denied any wrongdoing and rejected any intervention by the authorities.
“Despite this, the welfare department handed over the matter to the Israel Police,” said the statement. “The Judea and Samaria District Police conducted an investigation into the matter and the couple was arrested this morning. The couple’s children are being taken care of by the welfare department which is working in cooperation with the administration of the Social Services Ministry’s Jerusalem district.”
Kiryat Arba-Hebron Local Council chairman Malachi Levinger said, “If the suspicions turn out to be true, then I call on the authorities to prosecute to the full extent of the law. We as a civilized society will not tolerate these or similar offenses."
Four years ago, the cult of Goel Ratzon, who lived with 17 wives and 38 children, was revealed. He was charged with dozens of sex offenses, including rape, sodomy and indecent assault. The Tel Aviv District Court is to render a ruling in Ratzon's case on Monday.
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