Lawmakers on Wednesday called for the creation of legislation that will criminalize cult activities and allow prosecutors to bring cult leaders to justice.
Information shared at a special hearing of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, headed by Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, said that cults are not illegal and currently there are no laws to allow the authorities to arrest or prosecute cult leaders. Rather, in two recent cases where authorities did manage to break up a cult and arrest its leader, it was only after receiving reports of sexual assault and child abuse.
According to a special report compiled last year by the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, there are roughly 80 groups actively operating in Israel today that could be clearly defined as a cult. In addition, the report suggests that thousands of individuals have chosen to adopt the beliefs of a particular group and live their lives according to principals demanded by a single leader or guru.