Rabbi Arrested for Trafficking Babies of Mentally Disabled Mothers Between Israel and the U.S.

Earlier this month (December 2019) The Nazareth Magistrate’s Court in Israel lifted a gag order on a two-year investigation into a suspected baby trafficking ring. In February 2019 Israeli police arrested five people, including an American rabbi who heads a yeshiva, for allegedly running an international baby trafficking ring that targeted mentally disabled mothers. The Times of Israel reports: "Rabbi Shmuel Puretz 44, a businessman who divides his time between New York and Jerusalem, is suspected of brokering a deal under which a heavily pregnant Israeli woman was flown to New York and her baby removed from her allegedly against her will, then given for adoption to a childless ultra-Orthodox couple who live in Israel." The Jewish Journal further reports: "Puretz, who denies the allegations, is accused of sending Israeli expectant mothers in need or suffering from a mental disability from within haredi Orthodox communities to the United States so they would give birth there. The babies would be given to childless foster parents who allegedly paid Puretz and others for the babies. Many details about the affair, including how much money the handlers allegedly charged, are still subject to a gag order. Yediot Aharanot reported in a 2017 expose about the affair that they charged a $100,000 to $150,000 'handling fee' per child." Marianne Azizi, writing for the publication Byline, has profiled the case of one of the alleged victims of this baby trafficking operation, Adi Gnio. "She has come forward to give her story in English to the NGO CFI - Children and Families International, of how her twin girls were taken from her several years ago. Currently raising her 3 sons, she has found the courage to tell the story of the network who coerced her into taking her twin girls and then selling them. She goes into details as to how she was manipulated by an experienced ring of traffickers. Here is the inside exclusive story of how she was pressured by a sophisticated ring of people to sell her children against her will. Her own country Israel – were waiting to take her babies at the moment of birth, and in the USA, an unscrupulous ring capitalised on her dilemma."