Israeli well-known rabbi arrested over magic, sex offences, money laundering among other charges

Occupied Jerusalem (QNN)- The well-known Rabbi, Eliezer Berland, was arrested Sunday in occupied Jerusalem over the involvement in magic, sex offenses, money laundering, misuse of charity funds, exploitation offenses, and tax evasion, according to Israeli media.

Berland, 82, was arrested along with his wife and other senior members of his ultra-Orthodox Shuvu Bonim sect on Sunday while teaching in a synagogue near his home, as his followers clashed with police, wounding two police officers in the process.

Berland was taken into custody during investigations into claims that he extorted funds out of his followers by promising to heal them.

Over 200 witnesses have stepped forward as part of the investigations.They said that they paid huge amounts of money for promises that he would heal them from cancer or get their sons released from prison.

“He allegedly told a cancer patient not to accept medical treatment and instead pay him money so that she would live,” reported Israeli media. “After she died, her mother filed a police complaint against him, accusing him of manslaughter.”

According to the police, Berland and the five arrested with him are suspected of “cynically and cruelly exploiting hundreds of people and their family members, who probably were in their darkest hour, while demanding them to pay the rabbi tens of thousands of shekels in exchange for his blessings.”

He is also suspected of providing his followers with candy instead of medications.

Moreover, “infrastructure for carrying out a variety of money laundering offenses, tax evasion and other tax-related offenses worth hundreds of millions of shekels” were exposed.

In 2016, Berland, the leader of the Shuvu Banim Hasidic community, was convicted of two counts of indecent acts and assault after confessing and signing a plea bargain. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but in 2017 he was released from jail in accordance with the ruling of Israel’s parole board after having served only 10 months.

In 2013 Berland fled the occupation state and spent some three years on the run in multiple countries before being arrested in South Africa and extradited to the occupation state in July 2016, according to Haaretz.

Prior to fleeing the occupation state in 2013, Berland carried out sexual acts without consent on women and minors while abusing his position of trust.

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