Jerusalem – The arrests of two alleged chastity squads members, Elhanan Buzaglo and Binyamin Meirovich, have sparked a new wave of violence in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.
Following the arrests, garbage bins in the neighborhood of Geula were set on fire. Police officers who arrived were greeted with rocks being thrown at them. A store selling MP4 devices was attacked last week.
Buzaglo, 29, was indicted over an incident which took place two months ago. The District Prosecutor’s Office believes that Buzaglo, along with six other chastity squad members, broke into a divorced woman’s home located in the Jerusalem neighborhood of, Maalot Dafna, beat her and threatened her.
“The woman was badly bruised and required medical attention. For his role, Buzaglo was paid $2000,” claimed the prosecution. Binyamin Meirovich, who allegedly took part in the same attack, was released last week under limiting conditions.
“I was pretty much into it”, says Chess, who was active in the organization for four years. “We would meet in a regular meeting place and get our assignments. Every Thursday we would be on alert.
“I bought a club, so that I would have an easier time breaking bones. Some used irons. The job only get carried out after hard evidence was gathered. We would collect the evidence, and there was a hotline as well.”
“You would have children misbehaving. An example would be this if married woman who was not being promiscuous. This one time I came up to a woman and broke two of her bones. For two bones we would get $1,600 and divide it amongst ourselves. There was this one case where the guy was big and had big bones; we got $3,300 because he was a harder case.”
A former member from the Geula neighborhood said, “I joined two years ago and I left. We would film people going to clubs in Tel Aviv with either a cell phone or a digital camera. The squad always looked for the ones running off to Tel Aviv because they thought that they were safe there, but they didn’t know that we were onto them. Always.”
“There was one guy in the neighborhood, we had information that he had unclean films in his possession and that he would sell the films to other people. We immediately locked onto him. We followed him to where he was having dinner one Thursday. We broke two of his bones.
“We would go into orthodox chat rooms and forums. Those places are like Sodom and Gomorrah. There was a lot of unclean chat. I pretended to play along and I met a married woman who was looking for men. Our goal was to get to the persons in charge of the forum through her. We started beating her, but she denied that she had anything to do with running the site, we believed her and the chat room is still operational.”
“A lot of our guys would fly abroad and get donations for our cause and come back a lot of dollars.”
Haredi writer Rabbi Israel Gellis says that the organization, which is known in the orthodox community as “the committee for purity,” was established at the same time as the State of Israel.
“Its role then was more explanatory, what you can or cannot buy, what the right length for a skirt is, how to dress and what to wear. In the 1970s the committee’s activity went up a notch. They would call you and tell you that your wife is dressed in an improper way. That’s how they would let people know, and they have been doing that ever since.”
So where did all the violence come from?
“As is the case with any society, even the orthodox have violent people, and there are those who are just agitators.”
Yair Golan, Binyamin Meirovich’s lawyer, said that “Mr. Meirovich is denying any allegations made against him. He gave his statement to the police, and was subsequently released with the police’s consent and with some limitations.”
The Jerusalem police responded by saying that “an investigation is being carried out in regards to this subject, a number of people have been arrested and some will be brought up on charges.”
Buzaglo’s attorney, Ariel Atary, is currently out of the country and was unavailable for comment