Israeli Rabbi Convicted of Sexual Assault Arrested on Suspicion of Fraud, Tax Evasion

Convicted sex offender Rabbi Eliezer Berland was arrested Sunday in Jerusalem on suspicion of receipt under false pretenses, tax evasion and exploitation offenses.

In 2016, Berland, the leader of the Shuvu Banim Hasidic community, was convicted of two counts of indecent acts and assault after confessing and signing a plea bargain. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but in 2017 he was released from jail in accordance with the ruling of Israel's parole board after having served only 10 months.

>> 'God on earth': Followers of Hasidic rabbi convicted of sexual assault hail his 'superhuman powers'

– Rabbi Berland’s followers confront police forces during his arrest, February 9, 2020.

כוחות גדולים של משטרה התעמתו עם חסידי הרב ברלנד במהלך הפשיטה המשטרתית בה נעצר ברלנד יחד עם חמישה ממקורביו
(צילום: מחאות החרדים הקיצונים)

— אהרן רבינוביץ (@AronRabino1) February 9, 2020

Rabbi Berland’s followers confront police forces during his arrest, February 9, 2020.

Israel Police said that Berland and five other suspects who were arrested with him would appear before the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court later today to extend their detention. Berland's wife was also detained.

Berland was arrested at 5:00 A.M. while teaching in a synagogue near his home in Jerusalem. Berland's followers confronted the police during the arrest, with some of them hurling stones and other objects, wounding two police officers in the process. Police used stun grenades during the raid.

Some of Berland's followers then chased after the police vehicle he was taken in and laid down on the road to prevent it from driving away.

According to the police, Berland and the five arrested with him are suspected of "cynically and cruelly exploiting hundreds of people and their family members, who probably were in their darkest hour, while demanding them to pay the rabbi tens of thousands of shekels in exchange for his blessings."