Israeli police said Monday that they raided a cult-like group in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem and arrested a 60-year-old man on suspicion of isolating some 50 women and children in “slavery” conditions. Women who escaped the group described it as a “cult” to police as they carried out their undercover investigation. The raid was executed with the Israeli Center for Victims of Cults. “We know that the women and children were there for several months inside the home,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. “We know that he took their money away from them and was holding them against their will.”
Police said the 60-year-old man, whose identity has not been revealed, is suspected of leading the group with eight female accomplices and “committing severe offenses” against those he held hostage, which included children between the ages of one to five. The prime suspect had previously been arrested at least twice on similar charges, according to Israel’s Channel 12. Superintendent Isaac Simon said the victims were held in “very cramped conditions and difficult sanitary conditions” with closely spaced triple-decker bunk beds.