TIME Israel

Israeli Cult Pimped Out Jewish Women to Non-Jews in Order to ‘Save Israel’

Having sex with non-Jewish men — for money — would make the female recruits better Orthodox Jews, leaders promised

A cultish prostitution ring in Israel has for years convinced female members that the future of the Israeli state weighed on them having sex with non-Jewish men, say local police.

Eight ringleaders of what police are describing as a “messianic” cult active throughout Israel are accused of telling female recruits that they must prostitute themselves to non-Jewish men “to save the Jewish people and expedite the redemption,” Haaretz reports.

The women, who also were plied with drugs and alcohol, were told that their own spiritual redemption depended on them selling sex to the cult’s clients, say officers.

Police have shut down the alleged prostitution ring and arrested eight suspects, including David Dvash, 60, a resident of the hard-line Bat Ayin settlement in the West Bank, Haaretz reports. Dvash, who calls himself David the Best, reportedly has 15 children and is married to two women, one of whom is also a suspect in the case.

Lawyers for Dvash and another male suspect filed an insanity plea in court on Sunday, Haaretz said.

Police first learned about the cult about four months ago after Lehava, an extremist Israeli group opposed to marriage between Jewish women and non-Jewish men, alerted authorities to the prostitution ring, Sky News reported. The ring, which had been active for about six or seven years and had recruited about five women, some of whom were minors, apparently attracted a Palestinian cliental from the West Bank, as well as foreign workers in Tel Aviv.

However, this is not the only Israeli sex cult making the news this week. In a separate case, the Tel Aviv district court on Monday convicted a 64-year-old man of rape, incest and other crimes, for keeping a harem of 21 subjugated “wives” who bore him 38 children — all of whom were given variations of his first name, Goel, or “savior” in Hebrew. Some of his daughters were among the rape victims, Reuters said.

Goel Ratzon was found not guilty on the enslavement charge, though former harem women at the sentencing told reporters that they had been in “total slavery,” the Associated Press said. Some of them, according to Reuters, had Ratzon’s name and face tattooed on their bodies.

TIME conflict

“Murder in Munich”: A Terrorist Threat Ignored

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The September 18, 1972, cover of TIME TIME

September 5, 1972: Terrorists kidnap and kill Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics

Police psychologist Georg Sieber imagined 26 ways the 1972 Summer Olympics could go terribly wrong. Commissioned by organizers to predict worst-case scenarios for the Munich games, Sieber came up with a range of possibilities, from explosions to plane crashes, for which security teams should be prepared.

Situation Number 21 was eerily prescient, as TIME would describe many years later. Sieber envisioned that “a dozen armed Palestinians would scale the perimeter fence of the [Olympic] Village. They would invade the building that housed the Israeli delegation, kill a hostage or two (“To enforce discipline,” Sieber says today), then demand the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails and a plane to fly to some Arab capital.” The West German organizers balked, asking Sieber to downsize his projections from cataclysmic to merely disorderly — from worst-case to simply bad-case scenarios. Situations such as Number 21 could only be prevented by scrapping the Olympics entirely, they argued. Instead of beefing up security, they scaled back their expectations of threat.

So they were unprepared when, early this morning in 1972, an attack unfolded almost exactly according to Sieber’s hypothetical specifications. Eight men affiliated with the Palestinian terrorist group Black September broke into the Israeli apartment before dawn and took 11 athletes and coaches hostage.

Thanks to lax security — exposed decades later when a classified report was made public in 2005 — it was a relatively easy task for the terrorists. They were seen scaling the fence, but, wearing tracksuits, were taken for athletes and ignored. Getting into the Israelis’ housing was even easier: Among other departures from Sieber’s recommendations, the team had been assigned rooms on the ground floor. Once inside, the terrorists killed two hostages almost immediately and demanded the release of 234 prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for the rest. While the world watched, West German officials launched into poorly planned, ineffectual action. First, they dismissed Sieber, telling him his services were no longer needed. Then they botched a rescue mission that culminated in the deaths of all the remaining hostages, a German officer and five of the eight commandos. The three who survived were captured but later released in exchange for a hijacked Lufthansa plane.

Sept. 18, 1972,
A diagram of the events in Munich, from the Sept. 18, 1972, issue of TIME

The tragedy was also devastating to the Germans, who had hoped that being gracious Olympic hosts would distract from the memory of Nazi propaganda at their last games, the Berlin Olympics in 1936. They had given the 1972 Olympics the official motto Die Heiteren Spiele, which translates variously as the happy games, the cheerful games or the carefree games. That phrase presented a stark contrast to reality — and a grim reminder that merely hoping for the best will not prevent the worst.

Read TIME’s Sept. 18, 1972, cover story about the attack: Horror and Death at the Olympics

TIME Education

See the First Day of School for Students Around the World

Sharpen your pencils, TIME looks at the first day of school from the U.S. to Ukraine

TIME Syria

Syrian Rebels, Government Clash in Golan Heights

Mideast Israel Palestinians
U.N. soldiers observe Syria's Quneitra province at an observation point near the border with Syria on Sept. 1, 2014 Sebastian Scheiner—AP

Syria's state news agency says the military killed "many terrorists"

(BEIRUT) — Syrian rebels clashed with government troops on Monday in the Golan Heights, where al-Qaida-linked insurgents abducted U.N. peacekeepers last week, activists said.

The fighting was focused around the town of Hamidiyeh in Quneitra province near the disputed frontier with Israel, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory said there were casualties on both sides but did not have exact figures.

Syria’s state news agency said the military killed “many terrorists” and destroyed a heavy machine gun in the fighting. The government refers to those trying to oust President Bashar Assad as terrorists.

Heavy clashes have raged in the area since Syrian rebels captured a border crossing near the abandoned town of Quneitra on Wednesday. One day later, fighters from al-Qaida’s Syria branch, the Nusra Front, abducted 45 Fijian peacekeepers and surrounded two Filipino contingents serving in the U.N. mission that monitors the buffer zone between Israel and Syria.

The Filipino troops escaped over the weekend, while the Fijians are still being held by the Nusra Front. The United Nations says that it is seeking the Fijians’ immediate and unconditional release. It says it has not established where the peacekeepers are being held.

Fiji’s military commander said Tuesday that the Nusra Front has issued three demands for the release of the Fijian peacekeepers.

Brig. Gen. Mosese Tikoitoga said the Nusra Front wants to be taken off the U.N. terrorist list, wants humanitarian aid delivered to parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, and wants compensation for three of its fighters it says were killed in a shootout with U.N. officers Tikoitoga said the U.N. has sent hostage negotiators to Syria.

The rebels’ targeting of the U.N. mission has touched off criticism among some nations contributing troops to the peacekeeping force about how the Golan Heights operation functions.

Ireland, which contributes a 130-member armored rapid response unit to the U.N. mission, warned Monday it would not replace its troops next month if U.N. leaders in New York do not agree on strengthening the force’s firepower, command and control, and rules of engagement.

“I’ve made it very clear that I’m not going to continue to commit Irish troops to this mission unless there’s a very fundamental review of how it’s going to operate. Clearly this is no longer a demilitarized zone,” Irish Defense Minister Simon Coveney told RTE state radio in Dublin.

“We need to get a significant reassurance from the U.N., and the Syrian side, that we can operate a mission safely. The risk levels, given what’s happened over the last three days, are not acceptable.”

He said Irish troops in armored vehicles exchanged fire with rebels Saturday as they rescued Filipino troops from one of the besieged border posts. The Indian-led, 1,250-member force includes soldiers from Fiji, India, Nepal, the Philippines and the Netherlands.

Coveney said the Irish unit remained on standby for a potential rescue of the seized Fijian troops. Ireland’s current military deployment has been in the Golan Heights since March and is supposed to be replaced by other Irish soldiers next month.

An Irish withdrawal could deal a final blow to the U.N. mission, which has already seen Austria and Croatia pull their forces last year over fears they would be targeted. The Philippines, meanwhile, has said it would bring home its peacekeepers after their tour of duty ends in October.

The group that abducted the peacekeepers, the Nusra Front, published a statement online on Sunday that included photos showing what it said were the captured Fijians, along with 45 identification cards. The group said the men were “in a safe place and in good health.”

The statement mentioned no demands or conditions for the peacekeepers’ release.

The Nusra Front accused the U.N. of doing nothing to help the Syrian people since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. It said the Fijians were seized in retaliation for the U.N.’s ignoring “the daily shedding of the Muslims’ blood in Syria” and even colluding with Assad’s army “to facilitate its movement to strike the vulnerable Muslims” through a buffer zone in the Golan Heights.

The group is one of the two most powerful extremist factions fighting in Syria’s civil war, which the U.N. says has killed more than 190,000 people. However, the Nusra Front has been eclipsed by the Islamic State group, which broke away from al-Qaida earlier this year and has since carved out a proto-state spanning the Syria-Iraq border.

Human Rights Watch said Monday that it has credible evidence that the Islamic State group has used ground-fired cluster munitions in at least one place in northern Syria. These weapons explode in the air, releasing hundreds of tiny bomblets. Those that fail to explode pose a long-lasting danger to civilians.

The New York-based rights group said that reports from local Kurdish officials as well as photographs indicate the extremists fired cluster munitions on July 12 and Aug. 14 during clashes with Kurdish forces around Ayn Arab near the Turkish border. Five people were killed in the attacks, Human Rights Watch said.

It was no clear how Islamic State fighters had acquired the weapons, the group said.

The Syrian government has used at least 249 cluster munitions since mid-2012, according to Human Rights Watch.

“Any use of cluster munitions deserves condemnation, but the best response is for all nations to join the treaty banning them and work collectively to rid the world of these weapons,” said HRW’s Steve Goose.

TIME Israel

Israel Claims Almost 1,000 Acres of West Bank for New Settlement

Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sebastian Scheiner—AP

Decision reportedly taken after the June abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers

Israel declared a large section of the West Bank as “state lands” on Sunday, in a move that caused outrage among Palestinian authorities.

The Los Angeles Times, citing local media sources, reported that the Israeli government took over 990 acres in the Palestinian territory south of Bethlehem.

This declaration is the largest since 1980, according to antisettlement group Peace Now, which said it would have a significant impact on the region.

Peace Now’s Yariv Oppenheimer wrote in a Facebook post that the appropriation of land was a “stab in the back” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Oppenheimer added that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “destroying any diplomatic horizon.”

Abbas’ office warned that the Israeli attempt to encroach upon Palestinian land would further escalate the conflict between the two sides, and called for the declaration to be withdrawn.

The Israeli government reportedly wants to keep the part of the West Bank it calls the Etzion Bloc in any future agreements with the Palestinians, and Peace Now reports that the lands have been earmarked for the expansion of the settlement of Gevaot there.

Settlement leaders sought to justify the annexation of the land, which was reportedly decided by the government after the June abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers. Yigal Dilmoni, of the umbrella settlement group called the Yesha Council, said it was “an appropriate Zionist response to terror attacks against Israel.”

Hanan Ashrawi, of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, responded that Israel is moving toward a “de facto one-state solution,” and aims to “wipe out any Palestinian presence on the land.”

[LAT]

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: Aug. 22 – Aug.29

From Michael Brown’s funeral and a cease fire in Gaza, to swarms of locusts in Madagascar and the US Open Tennis Championships, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME Syria

U.N. Says 43 Peacekeepers Detained by Armed Group in Golan Heights

Irish members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) sit on their armoured vehicles in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights as they wait to cross into the Syrian-controlled territory, on August 28, 2014.
Irish members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) sit on their armoured vehicles in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights as they wait to cross into the Syrian-controlled territory, on August 28, 2014. Jack Guez—AFP/Getty Images

Rebel groups, including an al-Qaeda affiliate, are clashing with the Syrian military at the border between Israel and Syria.

The United Nations said Thursday that 43 UN peacekeepers are being detained by “an armed group” at the border between Syria and Israel where Islamist militants are clashing with the Syrian military. Another 81 UN peacekeepers in the area of separation were trapped at their positions, the UN said.

Rebel forces, including the al-Qaeda affiliate known as the Nusra Front, have reportedly advanced on Syrian forces and seized the Quneitra border crossing near where the UN peacekeepers were detained.

Some 1,200 peacekeepers with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force monitor the demilitarized zone in the Golan Heights, comprising servicemen from Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, the Netherlands and the Philippines.

“The United Nations is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers, and to restore the full freedom of movement of the Force throughout its area of operation,” the UN said in a statement.

UN peacekeepers have been apprehended in Syria in the past and released, including last year when a group of Filipino UN peacekeepers were released.

TIME Israel

Israelis Skeptical of PM’s Gaza Victory Claim

JERUSALEM (AP) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Israel achieved a “great military and political” victory over Hamas in the latest round of fighting in the Gaza Strip has met with skepticism from many Israelis, according to a poll published Thursday.

The poll, published in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper, shows that 54 percent of those surveyed believe there was no clear winner in the 50 days of war. The fighting killed 2,143 Palestinians, most of them civilians, according to Palestinian health officials and U.N. officials. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers, five civilians and a Thai worker were killed.

The poll underscores the unease pervading Israeli society after the third round of fighting between Israel and Gaza-based Islamic militants in the seven years since Hamas took control of the densely populated coastal strip.

Some of Netanyahu’s detractors, including ministers in his own government like veteran security hawk Uzi Landau, believe that the prime minister and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon did not go far enough in pursuing the war, insisting that they should not have stopped until Hamas was destroyed or pleaded for peace.

Others, particularly residents of hard-hit agricultural communities abutting the Gaza border, fear that without a clear political roadmap for the Palestinian territory’s future, a resumption of the rocket and mortar fire that caused such considerable disruption to their lives for most of the summer is not so much a question of if, but rather of when.

Still, calm has prevailed since the two sides agreed on Tuesday to an open-ended truce, settling for an ambiguous interim agreement in exchange.

Hamas, though badly battered, remains in control of Gaza with part of its military arsenal intact. Israel and Egypt are to continue to control access to the blockaded coastal strip despite Hamas’ long-running demand that the border closures imposed in 2007 be lifted.

A former director of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, said the war’s results “were disappointing and were accompanied by what some have described as a sense of sourness.”

“The cease-fire that was achieved with Hamas has left the Israeli public frustrated,” Diskin wrote in a commentary published in the popular Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Thursday.

The Haaretz poll questioned 464 Israelis on Wednesday and had a margin of error of 4.6 percent. While 54 percent said there was no clear-cut winner, some 25 percent of respondents said Israel had won the war, while 16 percent believed Hamas had prevailed. The remaining 5 percent of those surveyed were undecided. The paper did not say how the survey was conducted.

Later that night in a nationally televised speech, Netanyahu said that Israel had dealt Hamas “a heavy blow.”

“With the implementation of the cease-fire, I can say that there is a great military and political achievement here for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Hamas was hit hard and it received not one of the demands it set forth for a cease-fire, not one.”

Netanyahu also said Israel “will not tolerate” any more of the Hamas rocket fire that started the war on July 8, and would respond “even harder” if attacks resume.

TIME Israel

Israelis and Palestinians Ask if the Latest Fight Was Worth It

Palestinian men walk in a street of Gaza City's Shejaiya neighborhood in early morning dense fog among the ruins of their neighbourhood on Aug. 27, 2014.
Palestinian men walk among the ruins of Gaza City's Shejaiya neighborhood on Aug. 27, 2014 Roberto Schmidt—AFP/Getty Images

A bloody war is followed by a public-relations fight

Israeli and Palestinian leaders set out Wednesday to sell their constituents on what was achieved during the latest fighting between the two sides, a day into a cease-fire that ended 50 days of war.

Senior officials on both sides of the conflict declared victory, albeit in very different ways, and laid out the war’s purported achievements. But some found themselves questioning what was really accomplished — and at what price.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced severe criticism from both ends of the political spectrum — from left-wingers who think the war could have been avoided had he not squandered a recent round of peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and from right-wingers who say he didn’t go far enough in the latest Gaza war. Netanyahu resisted hawkish calls to have the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attempt an overthrow of Hamas and a reoccupation of the Gaza, and he shelved his insistence on the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, which he had been promoting last month as a solution to the conflict.

Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s own Foreign Minister and among the most prominent critics in his cabinet, slammed the cease-fire deal.

“We object to the cease-fire which offers Hamas the ability to continue to grow strong and fight future battles with Israel whenever it feels like,” Lieberman wrote on Facebook.

Unlike other key national decisions, Netanyahu did not bring the cease-fire deal to his cabinet for a discussion or a vote. After coming under fire for not addressing the nation Tuesday evening when the cease-fire deal was signed, Netanyahu held a news conference Wednesday alongside his Defense Minister and the IDF Chief of Staff, aimed at touting what he said was a mission accomplished, one that will provide “a lasting quiet” for Israel.

“Hamas did not get one of its demands to end Operation Protective Edge,” Netanyahu said, using the name of the Israeli military operation. “It demanded a seaport, it didn’t get it. It demanded an airport, it didn’t get it. It wanted mediation from Qatar and Turkey, it didn’t get it.”

He listed other Palestinian demands — the release of prisoners, the opening of Hamas offices in the West Bank that Israel closed, money — and boasted that Israel refused all of these. Rather, he said, what Israel essentially agreed to was the rehabilitation of Gaza by allowing humanitarian goods to enter.

A thousand Hamas terrorists were killed, many of them commanders,” he said. “Thousands of rocket arsenals, launch sites and weapons caches were destroyed along with hundreds of command centers.”

Those figures highlight the disparity in Palestinian and Israeli casualties and even how each side measures them: while Palestinians say that at least 70% of the approximately 2,100 Palestinians killed were civilians, Israel says about 50% were Hamas fighters. Seventy Israelis were killed, 64 of them soldiers.

While Israelis debated the war’s outcome and whether it was worth it — more than half say there was no winner, according to a new poll — the mood was more jubilant and less analytical in Gaza City. Palestinians went out to shop, to the bank, to the beach, and in many cases, to see if their homes were still standing. “People are happy that they survived more than anything else,” said Gazan journalist Abeer Ayyoub. “I’m just glad to be alive and that my house wasn’t demolished.”

Hamas rallied its supporters Wednesday afternoon, and many top officials not seen during the past seven weeks of war emerged to speak. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the blood spilled in the war was “the fuel of this victory.” Wearing a black-and-white kaffiyeh-patterned scarf over his business suit, he counted Hamas’ gains. “This battle is a war that lacks a precedent in the history of conflict with the enemy,” he said, adding that the group was preparing for the “ultimate battle” for Palestinian liberation.

“The war began with fire on Haifa and ended with fire on Haifa,” Haniyeh said, referring to the longer-range rockets Hamas used to target one of the main cities along Israel’s northern coast.

Mkhaimar Abusada, a political analyst at al-Azhar University in Gaza, said many Palestinians view Hamas as victorious simply because of its resilience and its survival.

“If you look at the numbers, we had about 30 times the number of Palestinians killed as in Israel … From this point of view, we didn’t win,” Abusada tells TIME. “But the Palestinians look at it from a different perspective. With limited capability, the Palestinian resistance was able to withstand the Israeli aggression and continue to fight to the last minute. Let’s face it, Israel didn’t reach its goals, because Israel could not stop the launching of missiles, and I’m not really sure they succeeded in deterring the Palestinians.”

TIME Israel

Israeli Leader Declares Victory in Gaza War

(JERUSALEM) — Israel’s prime minister has declared victory in the Gaza war against Hamas, saying a cease-fire deal gave nothing to the Islamic militant group.

In a news conference broadcast on national TV, Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that “Hamas was hit hard” during the seven weeks of fighting.

He said that under the cease-fire deal, which took effect on Tuesday, Israel didn’t accept any of Hamas’ demands.

More than 2,000 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, and Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire destroyed thousands of buildings.

Netanyahu’s address appeared to be aimed at countering critics who have complained that the cease-fire failed to oust Hamas or stop its rocket attacks out of Gaza.

Hamas also has declared victory.

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