Middle East

Israeli police bust 'messianic' prostitution ring

Details have emerged from Israel about a prostitution ring in which Jewish women were allegedly forced into having sex with non-Jews by a messianic sect.

Two men and two women are being detained on suspicion of exploitation.

Police say the victims were brainwashed into believing that having sex with non-Jews would "save the Jewish people and bring about redemption".

They were also made to become dependent on alcohol and drugs, and have sex under their influence, police say.

The head of the police investigation, Superintendent Arik Mordechai, told the Haaretz newspaper that some 15 women had been recruited, some of whom were believed to be minors.

Their "clients" - from whom money was received - included Palestinians from the West Bank and foreign workers from Tel Aviv, the newspaper reported.

The four suspects are a 60-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman from the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, a 47-year-old man from the town of Ashkelon and a 39-year-old woman from Jerusalem. They have so far not been named.

The arrests were the result of a four-month-long undercover investigation prompted by reports that the messianic sect was taking advantage of women members. Over the course of the investigation, police discovered that it was active throughout Israel.

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