Brothel in Tel Aviv 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Tel Aviv Police on Wednesday morning raided what they called “one of the largest
brothels” operating in the city, which they said brought in millions of shekels
in dirty money.
Police said the raid was carried out by YASSAM special
patrol officers, YAMAR special investigative unit detectives and officers from
the Tax Authority’s Yahalom enforcement unit. The officers arrested four men
that police said are suspected of committing wide-scale tax evasion, but no
crimes involving the sex trade itself.
By Wednesday afternoon, the four
men were all released by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on the condition that
they report for any further questioning with police.
Yoav Kotler, head of
the investigative branch of the Tel Aviv district police, said that the charges
do not include any sort of human trafficking, adding that the women all
willingly worked at the brothel “just like in 99 percent of the prostitution
industry in Israel.” Kotler said the case is a financial one dealing with tax
If the brothel was in fact one of the largest in Tel Aviv, it
was hard to tell on Wednesday.
The brothel was located in a small
basement apartment on Wolfson Street in south Tel Aviv and employed five or six
women per shift. It had previously been located at a building on Ben- Yehuda
Street in Tel Aviv that is now the location of the 10- room Comfort Hotel,
The brothel was located in a four-story building crammed
with illegally divided apartments rented out largely to African migrants. While
the brothel remained closed Wednesday following the police raid, just two doors
down a separate large brothel remained open, where inside two middle-aged
prostitutes and a female employee said they had not been visited by police and
had not heard of any sort of raid earlier in the day.
Kotler said that
police had not made a conscious effort not to raid that brothel, adding that
investigators are still working in the field and will act elsewhere how they see
Prostitution in Israel is legal, but there have been several bills
proposed in the Knesset that would criminalize the purchase of sexual services,
though none have yet become law.
Upstairs from the brothel, the owner of
a small family-owned metal working shop said he didn’t see the raid take place,
but that the night before, the whorehouse was packed with Palestinian customers
he said came in to celebrate after the end of Ramadan.
middle-aged owner of a paint store between the two brothels, issued a hearty
defense of the two neighborhood whorehouses, saying “they didn’t cause any
problems, Sudanese guys would go there and get relief instead of going out and
raping, what now?” He also said that because of the whorehouse “there were
always people here driving around or walking back and forth, people are less
likely to rob you if there’s people everywhere.”
A website for the
whorehouse calls the establishment “Angels of Tel Aviv,” and features nude
pictures of what it says are 33 different women available for NIS 250 each.