Mayor of Beitar Illit Settlement Suspected of Ignoring Violence by 'Modesty Patrol'

Police arrested two residents of the largely ultra-Orthodox settlement for alleged violence and threats against 'immodest' neighbors; Mayor Meir Rubinstein allegedly knew of their actions.

Police on Monday questioned the mayor of the largely ultra-Orthodox settlement of Beitar Illit under caution over suspicions that he turned a blind eye to violence committed by local residents.

At least two men are suspected of attacking fellow residents whose dress or behavior they deemed "insufficiently modest," while the mayor, Meir Rubinstein, is suspected of obstructing investigations, fraud and breach of trust.

The allegations against Rubinstein stemmed from a National Fraud Investigation Unit’s probe of a group of men who acted as a local "modesty patrol." They allegedly threatened and attacked residents whom they felt did not exhibit appropriate modesty and, in one case, even allegedly kidnapped an individual.

Police on Monday arrested two Beitar Illit residents on suspicion of involvement in the attacks. They will be brought to the Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court Tuesday for a remand hearing.

The police investigation revealed that both suspects worked for the Betar Illit municipality as youth counselors, and police believe Rubinstein knew of their actions. In cases where residents complained to the mayor, he also allegedly warned them not to alert the police.

Rubinstein was released after several hours of questioning.

Daniel Bar-On