After 3-year hunt, rabbi accused of molestation arrested in Israel
August 25. 2016
lasso Berland, child molester
A fugitive rabbi wanted for years on suspicions of molesting his female followers was extradited from South Africa Monday and was detained upon arrival at Ben-Gurion airport
Rabbi Eliezer Berland, founder of the Shuvu Bonim religious group, fled Israel to Morocco in 2013 amid allegations that he molested two female followers, one of them a minor.
The arrest caps years of Israeli attempts to lasso Berland, 79, considered a cult-like leader to thousands of his followers from the Bratslav Hasidic sect.
Since 2013, Berland has eluded Israeli attempts to extradite him, moving between Zimbabwe, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and South Africa, accompanied by a group of devout followers numbering around 40 families.
Rabbi Eliezer Berland participates in a mass prayer session at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, on January 25, 2012. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Video of his flight to Israel showed supporters singing a Hasidic tune as Berland, wrapped in a prayer shawl and phylacteries, waved his arms.
Some 300 supporters were also on hand at the airport to welcome Berland back, though he was whisked from the plane directly into police custody, pausing only to kiss the ground, according to reports.
“Since he left the country in February 2013, the police have worked… to bring him back to Israel for questioning about the allegations against him… the process was completed this morning with his arrest at Ben Gurion airport,” police said in a statement.