Jerusalem Man Arrested for Trying to Sell His Baby Daughter

Police say suspect demanded about $26,000 for his 3-month-old infant to cover his gambling debts.

Tomer Appelbaum

A Jerusalem resident is in police custody for allegedly trying to sell his 3-month-old daughter for 100,000 shekels (about $26,000) in order to pay off his gambling debts. Under police questioning, however, the suspect said he did not intend to go through with the transaction and that the offer was a ploy to raise the cash he needed.

The break in the case came when an undercover officer posed as an interested buyer. The two men met several times over a period of two weeks, after which the suspect was arrested.

The suspect, who has not been named but was described as being in his 30s, was arrested Wednesday, as was his 27-year-old wife. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Thursday ordered the man to remain in custody for seven days; the baby’s mother was questioned by police and released to house arrest. Police say the extent of her involvement in the affair is still unclear. Their baby was placed in the custody of city welfare authorities.

After the police received intelligence about a man who was reportedly offering to sell his infant daughter, the use of an undercover agent was approved, and he contacted the suspect. Over the course of several meetings, the police say, the man not only confirmed the initial suspicions but tried to close the deal by telling the undercover agent that he had already received an offer from a family.

The police say they have ruled out the possibility that anyone made a genuine offer to buy the baby.

On Wednesday, the undercover cop arranged to meet with the suspect to give him a deposit on the transaction. Police say he was arrested after he handed his daughter to the officer.