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On suspicion of drug offenses and rape: the Mexican police raided the Israeli cult "Pure Heart" | Israel today

2022-09-27T12:11:01.520Z

The raiding force of the local police numbered 80 people and an Israeli team hired by the families of members of the sect • Israel Amir who fled the sect a few years ago was reunited with his 3-year-old son



During the holiday, the Mexican police raided a compound of members of the "Pure Heart" sect in the country, in cooperation with special forces and agents from the local attorney's office and the Ministry of Welfare.

The raid took place after incriminating evidence was collected against some members of the cult on suspicion of drug trafficking, rape and other crimes.

The raiding force, which numbered about 80 people, was accompanied by an Israeli team hired by members of the families of sect members.

Israel Amir, who fled the violent sect a few years ago but his three-year-old son and sister were still in it, also participated in the raid along with family members.

His toddler son was located on the spot and handed over to him by the Mexican authorities, following an Israeli court order on the matter.

The two flew to Israel immediately after the operation and have already landed in the country. 

During the raid, which was accompanied by the Israeli consul in Mexico, 26 members of the sect were found in the compound, among them Israeli citizens with additional citizenships of Canada, the USA and Guatemala. Two of the members of the Israeli sect, Yoel Rosner (who also holds Canadian citizenship) and Menachem Mandel Alter, were arrested on suspicion of trafficking in humans and serious sex crimes. They are expected to be tried in Mexico and face sentences that can reach about 20 years in prison.

Sect members (archive), photo: from Canadian television

Two other wanted men were not found at the scene, and testimony from other members of the sect indicates that they left the compound with several other members about two days before the raid.

Five other members of the cult have been transferred by Mexican authorities to a facility for illegal immigrants, and are expected to be deported from the country.

The rest of those staying in the Lev Tahor compound were transferred to a facility of the Mexican Ministry of Welfare. 

According to officials who took part in the raid, the living conditions in the cult compound were "very poor".

However, the other members of "Pure Heart" who had no grounds for their arrest or deportation refused to leave the sect and move into the custody of the guardian of the State of Israel.

Despite the existence of guardianship orders in the matter, the Israeli consul in Mexico instructed the local forces not to use violence in evicting the cult members, and worked to ensure that children were not separated from their mothers.

In addition, the consul issued travel documents to those who required it. 

After it was decided not to use force and come to a confrontation with the cult members, it was decided to freeze the situation and leave them in the custody of the local welfare officials for four more days, until a decision is made in their case.

They were housed in clean rooms, kosher food was purchased for them and they are cared for by the welfare authorities of Mexico.

The Israeli consul tried to talk to the cult members who refuse to leave it, but so far they do not communicate with him.

Currently, the attempts to convince the children and their adults with guardianship orders in Israel to return to Israel continue.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that "the goal is to avoid the use of force and violent deportation from Mexico, so we will continue to focus right now on trying to talk to the members of the sect in order to return them to Israel."

The "Pure Lev" sect was established in Jerusalem in the mid-1980s by Rabbi Shlomo Halbrenz.

It operates in the format of a Hasidic court but implements a very extreme ideology that is not accepted even in ultra-Orthodox society.

Rabbi Halbrenz adopted the ideology of Satmer Hassidism, but gave it the strictest interpretation.

Among other things, he supported the view known as "hatred of the wicked", according to which a disconnection between ultra-Orthodox and secularists is a desirable thing, including the disconnection between converts and their secular parents. 

In 1990, Halbrenz left Israel for the USA with several dozen of his followers. According to the sect's version, this was done for ideological reasons, however, according to another version, the departure took place against the background of an investigation that had been opened against him. After about three years, the rabbi and the members of the sect left the USA because they got into trouble with the authorities.

They migrated to Canada, which they also had to leave after a few years due to suspicions of neglect, abuse and forced marriage on children.

In 2014, most of the cult's members moved to Guatemala, and in 2016, following an appeal by Israeli officials and in view of suspicions of abuse of children and adults, the local police raided the cult's compound in the capital, Guatemala City.

After the raid, some members of the sect moved to live in an isolated area in Guatemala and others fled to the state of Chiapas in Mexico, where Rabbi Halbrenz drowned while being immersed in a river.

From then until today, the sect is led by his son, Nachman Halbrenz, who continues the violent regime imposed on its members and, according to some testimonies, even made it worse.

Following the repeated entanglements with the authorities, members of the sect tried to escape to various countries, including Bosnia, Albania and even Iran.

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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2022-09-27

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