Israeli Police Arrest Seven Suspected of Forcing Foreigners Into Prostitution

Trafficking network allegedly brought women from Ukraine and Moldova to Israel and forced them to work as prostitutes

File photo: A suspect in shackles.
Olivier Fitoussi

Police have uncovered a network of traffickers in women that allegedly brought women from Ukraine and Moldova to Israel and forced them to work as prostitutes.

Seven suspects were arrested in their homes Monday after a covert investigation by the central unit of the Tel Aviv District Police, in conjunction with the Population, Immigration and Border Authority. Police confiscated documents that link them to the allegations. According to the police, this was an organized network that brought women to Israel under false pretenses and when they came to Israel, their passports were confiscated and they were intimidated into working as prostitutes.

The alleged ring focused on the Tel Aviv and central area. The ring was exposed when one of the women gave evidence to police. At this stage police know of at least four women brought to Israel through the network.

Among the seven arrested were two women who claimed they were merely clerks who made appointments, without knowing there was a trafficking network involved. Another suspect claimed his job was merely “help in getting the woman to Israel,” and said the woman had told him she had come to Israel to visit a relative and was expecting to work for her.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court extended the detention of six of the suspects for eight days on suspicion human trafficking, causing a person to leave his country for purposes of prostitution, pimping, extortion and a number of other violations.

Hagit Rahmani, the public defender representing one of the female suspects, said her client denies all the allegations and “doesn’t know most of those involved in the case.”

The Task Force on Human Trafficking NGO said in response, “We welcome this police action, and stress that to deal with this terrible phenomenon at its source, the consumption of prostitution services must be outlawed. Only reducing the consumption of prostitution by legislation will lead to a substantial reduction in trafficking in women to Israel, and will also reduce the continuous harm to the trafficking victims and to local women who are exploited for prostitution.”