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Prostitution cult unearthed from West Bank by Israeli police

JERUSALEM: Jewish women were brainwashed into having sex with non-Jewish men as a path to redemption, in a prostitution ring smashed by Israeli police.

The man suspected of running the cult is identified in court papers as an eccentric 60-year-old from Kiryat Arba, a hardline settlement in the southern West Bank.

Police say they arrested a group of eight "messianic" men and women who targeted vulnerable women and “prostituted them under the influence of drugs and alcohol.” They told them that having sex specifically with non-Jews would “save the Jewish people and bring about redemption.”

Superintendent Arik Mordechai, who is leading the investigation, told Haaretz newspaper that around 15 women had been recruited, some of whom were believed to be under 18 years old. The newspaper said their ‘clients’ included Palestinians from the West Bank and foreign workers from Tel Aviv.

The affair was brought to the attention of police by Lehava, an extremist Israeli group which fights against intermarriage. Lehava leader Bentzi Gopstein said prostitution ring was operational for six to seven years and involved “four or five women.” He said the ringleaders had exploited the women's gullibility.