"I'm a naive woman. I pretty much believe everything."
This was how M., a 39-year-old woman from Jerusalem, explained her decision to hand over her eight children to the abusive hands of Elior Chen, an ultra-Orthodox man who called himself "rabbi" and who claimed that the children were in need of "correction".
The mother's statements to police, a portion of which were released on Sunday to the press, revealed a disturbing picture depicting a parent sitting quietly by while her two-year-old son is severely beaten. It shows how a mother turned her back on her infant son who was screaming for help.
"Many times I thought that what they were doing to my children is like in the Holocaust, that this was certainly how the Nazis would torture the Jews, for no reason... that this was how people looked in the Holocaust. But I thought that from these cases of torture, from the pain and the sorrow, the children will become righteous," M. told her investigators.
A year ago M. was indicted for assault and child abuse. Among the charges she faces with other co-conspirators is beating her three-year-old son to the point where he suffered bleeding in his brain and loss of consciousness, locking up her son in a suitcase while a yarmulke was stuffed in his mouth for a period of three days, struck infants in the head with wooden hammers, shook them, beat them with fists, forced their bodies to lean against radiators, and force-fed them fecies.
M. signed a plea bargain with Jerusalem prosecutors after Chen fled the country. He is currently a fugitive in Brazil.
The deal obligates Chen's romantic partner to testify against Chen and other accomplices suspected of abusing a number of children.
The woman admitted to authorities that she did not act to prevent Chen and others from abusing his children. In her statement to prosecutors, she included incriminating statements against Chen which are believed to significantly strengthen the government's case and the investigation against Chen.
Chen is the leader of a group whose members are accused of abusing a number of children in Jerusalem. It was later revealed that the alleged victims include the children of one of the members of the group. At this point, Chen fled to Canada together with his family.
Chen is currently in Brazil, where authorities are in the midst of efforts to complete his extradition to Israel.
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