Haredim Allegedly Attack Elderly Woman

Victim tells Haaretz that attackers accused her of hosting secular, non-Jewish women in her home.

Police suspect that a group of ultra-Orthodox men brutally attacked a 70-year-old woman in her home in Jerusalem's Nahlaot neighborhood on Monday, apparently believing her to be a Christian missionary.

The victim spoke to Haaretz from Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Kerem, last night. She said that her attackers accused her of hosting secular, non-Jewish women in her home.

The incident occurred on Monday evening around 9 P.M. A number of men in ultra-Orthodox garb forced their way into the woman's apartment in the Haredi neighborhood. They tied the woman's arms and then punched her on her body.

The victim said the beating lasted half an hour, and that the intruders also vandalized her home before disappearing. She said the men stole her cell phone and computer.

The woman, who lives alone, was left on the floor with a broken ankle, a shattered and bleeding hand, a swollen face and internal bleeding.

The victim said that, just before the attackers started to pound her, they accused her of hosting secular women. She said that she holds such meetings to teach these women about Judaism. "I try to move them closer to Judaism,' she explained yesterday.

Recalling the attack, she said: "It was evening. My son had visited, and half an hour after he left. Five men I don't know stood at my door, all looking like ultra-Orthodox men. Two wore masks. Before I could say anything, they pushed me inside and closed the door. I tried to yell for help and to pick up the phone to call someone, but I was unable to do this."

Following the attack, the woman was discovered by a neighbor who heard noise in the apartment. The neighbor sent her son to check on the woman and also called the police.

"The house looked as though there had been a pogrom in it," said Nahum Bernstein, a volunteer police worker who was one of the first on the scene. "It was shocking. We found an elderly woman tied on the floor, with bruises on her face, a fractured hand and a broken ankle." He said the woman was very confused, but managed to indicate that the attack had religious motivations.

Jerusalem police searched the area after the incident. They are continuing their investigations.