Rabbi
© THOMAS COEX / AFP
Israeli policemen escort Rabbi Eliezer Berland
Members of a cult-like sect tried everything to prevent officers from bringing to custody a controversial Israeli rabbi thought to have taken advantage of gravely ill people and convicted of sexual assaults on women.

Israeli police have arrested Rabbi Eliezer Berland early on Sunday morning, along with his wife and other top members of his ultra-Orthodox Shuvu Bonim sect. Shortly afterwards, the sect's followers thronged the nearby street, trying to seal it off and stop the vehicle carrying Berland.

Stunning footage from the arrest shows them hurling stones at officers and banging fists on the passing car. Riot police shielded the vehicle as it passed by and tried to stand ground; two of them were injured, local media reported.

The stand-off saw officers fire stun grenades to disperse the crowd.


Berland was brought into custody after an investigation revealed a network of the cult members that allegedly extorted money from hundreds of individuals in exchange for the rabbi's blessings of healing called "redemption of the soul."


One of his blessings turned out to be a grand scam that cost a human life. Several years ago, a follower of Berland who was diagnosed with cancer but Berland allegedly instructed her not to get chemotherapy and instead to pay 20,000 shekels (roughly $5,800) for his blessing which he said would save her.

The woman died last September, and her mother accuses Berland of responsibility for her daughter's death.

Aside from that, the rabbi had two counts of sexual assault against two women. He has reportedly ordered to assault the husband of one of the victim's women for reporting the issue to the local media.

Back in 2016, audio recordings of Berland surfaced in the press, in which he ostensibly admits to raping one of his victims. He was not convicted for rape but had to flee Israel, travelling across several countries to avoid extradition to the Jewish State.