Israeli Police Raid Religious Cult-Like Group In Jerusalem

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A Rabbi arrives for a court hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on January 13, 2020. The Rabbi is suspect of being a leader of a closed ultra-Orthodox cult with dozens of women and children who lived under slavery conditions at the Geula Neighborhood in Jerusalem. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police said Monday they had raided a cult-like group in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem in which dozens of women and children were being held and abused under “slavery” conditions.

The police’s undercover investigation learned details from women who had escaped the group that authorities described as a “cult.” The police raid was carried out in coordination with the Israeli Center for Victims of Cults.

Police say a 60-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of heading the group and “committing severe offenses” against those under his influence. He and eight female accomplices are suspected of isolating some 50 women in the complex, along with children between the ages of 1-5, and keeping them out of contact with their families and the outside world.

The prime suspect, who was not named, is also suspected of stealing money and delving out various forms of punishment.

Superintendent Isaac Simon said victims of the cult were held in “very cramped conditions and difficult sanitary conditions.”

View of the house that is suspected to have been a closed ultra-Orthodox cult with dozens of women and children who lived under slavery conditions, at the Geula Neighborhood in Jerusalem, January 13, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** בית
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An inscription on the wall of a compound that allegedly housed a cult in Jerusalem reads ‘Woe if it were any different,’ January 13, 2020. A blurred image of a man is seen beside it, possibly the leader of the commune (Israel Police)

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