Police arrested six people on Monday suspected of smuggling deaf people from Eastern Europe into Israel, forcing them to work as beggars and confiscating their earnings.
The six are suspected of serious offences, including human trafficking, false imprisonment, forced labour, assault, rape, withholding passports and conspiring to commit a crime. Police said they were detained in a “swift, professional and covert investigation,” based on information from the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority. The trafficking in deaf people was first revealed by Haaretz almost two years ago.
Three of the suspects are from Rishon Letzion, with the others from Ashkelon, Netanya and Bat Yam. They are believed to have brought deaf-mute people from Eastern Europe into Israel on tourist visas, forcing them to work as beggars, often treating them violently and extorting and threatening them.
Police say the ring provided the beggars with housing, took away their passports and confiscated a significant portion of the money they earned. One of the victims is believed to have been sexually assaulted, police said.
The beggars come from relatively poor countries, like Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Estonia....