Police Suspect Mentally Distressed Woman Was Forced to Give Baby to U.S. Couple

According to suspicion, woman was flown to U.S. while heavily pregnant and had her baby taken away to give to a childless couple

Police officers at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport.
Dudu Becher

The police are investigating whether a couple from the United States kidnapped a baby from a mentally distressed Israeli woman, according to information released for publication Wednesday by the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court.

Investigators suspect that three years ago, the woman was flown to the United States when she was in her eighth month of pregnancy and held there until she gave birth, when the baby was taken from her and given to a childless Jewish-American couple.

The investigation was under a gag order for the past three years, during which several suspects were arrested for various short periods of time. All of them were released, however, and there is no one currently detained in connection with the case. The case was first reported by the Israeli news site Ynet two years ago, and there has recently been a new development. However, details are scant, as a court has placed a gag order regarding the people and locations involved.

The Ynet article reported evidence of distressed Israeli mothers being exploited to facilitate trafficking of Israeli babies in the United States. One story told of a young, emotionally disturbed woman whose first child was given to her husband’s sister to foster.

According to the report, when the woman became pregnant again, a rabbi’s wife was appointed her guardian and allegedly forced the woman to fly with her to the United States close to the birth, while hiding the reason for the trip from both the woman and her husband. Shortly after the birth, the baby was taken from her and she never saw him again.

Attorney Yahali Shperling, who represents a woman suspected of involvement in the kidnapping, told Haaretz that his client had been detained for a few days several months ago, and that she categorically denies the allegations.

“She’s a serious woman who is known to the public; a kind woman who acts as a guardian to teenage girls in distress, who has helped and contributed for decades,” he said.  “All she did was help a young woman who was being exploited by bad people. She has no connection to a kidnapping or adoption. She brought the young woman to her family so that they could help her.”

Attorney Tamar Ullmann, who represents a lawyer suspected of brokering the deal, told Haaretz that her client had been arrested half a year ago and then released. She said her client no idea the child had been kidnapped.