Israeli Justice Min. has not requested warrant for Lev Tahor child-abuse suspect

Elazar Rumpler was indicted in Israel in 2020 on charges of physical abuse of children in his school, but fled to Guatemala.

Members of Lev Tahor in Guatemala (photo credit: JORGE LOPEZ)
Members of Lev Tahor in Guatemala
(photo credit: JORGE LOPEZ)

Despite being indicted in Israel and put on trial for the severe physical and mental abuse of children, the Israeli Justice Ministry has apparently not requested that Interpol issue an arrest warrant for Elazar Rumpler, who fled Israel last year.

Currently, the Interpol database of its Red Notices does not include Rumpler.

Rumpler is a member of the ultra-Orthodox Lev Tahor cult and was indicted in the Jerusalem District Court in May 2020 for the abuse of two children in the school where he served as principal in Canada between 2009 and 2011.

In 2020, Rumpler visited Israel and was arrested and subsequently indicted for the abuse he allegedly committed in Canada against a nine-year-old and ten-year-old in his school.

Eliezer Rumpler, from the Lev Tahor Haredi Jewish sect   arrives to the Jerusalem District Court for a court hearing on June 28, 2020.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)Eliezer Rumpler, from the Lev Tahor Haredi Jewish sect arrives to the Jerusalem District Court for a court hearing on June 28, 2020. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

He was not incarcerated although did face restrictions on his freedom of movement, but nevertheless managed to flee the country in December 2020, despite a court stay-of-exit order against him, and returned to Guatemala.

Since that time it is understood that the Justice Ministry has not transferred his file to Interpol in order to facilitate his arrest and extradition back to Israel.

The Justice Ministry did not respond to a request for comment by the time of press.

The Lev Tahor group moved from Canada to Guatemala in 2014 due to investigations into child abuse in the community. The cult is now trying to move to Iran to avoid legal problems over its abusive practices.

Interpol Red Notices are an international arrest warrant for an individual facing criminal charges in a country where they are not resident and are helpful in facilitating the arrest of such people especially when crossing borders.

Rumpler is currently believed to be in Mexico, having crossed the border with Guatemala in recent weeks.

Rumpler was indicted by the Jerusalem District Court in 2020 for allegedly beating a nine-year-old boy with a belt and stick so severely that the boy was unable to walk when his ordeal was over, as well as for other offenses.

“The Israeli government has failed for years to act upon the outrageous and disturbing reports of illegal and dangerous behavior taking place in the Lev Tahor cult, which consists primarily of Israeli citizens,” said Shana Aaronson, director of the Magen organization, which combats child abuse.

“FAILING TO ensure that an international warrant is issued for Rompler by Interpol is an especially infuriating lapse. The victims who reported Rompler’s horrific abuse against children to the Israeli police demonstrated incredible courage and bravery. After living through personal and communal hell, they spent hours detailing everything they went through and witnessed. The Israeli courts made the unfortunate and frankly baffling decision to allow Rompler to be released and he escaped as a result.

“These and all of the other Lev Tahor victims deserve justice, and this should be just one small step towards that. The man is wanted, charged in Israel, and yet is still allowed to travel the globe freely. We should all be asking, why?”

According to the indictment against Rompler, the former school principal suspected one of his students of stealing money from charity funds and viciously beat him as punishment.

The indictment states that Rumpler and other teachers stripped the boy down to his underwear and laid him on a table, after which Rumpler ordered one of the teachers to tie the boy’s legs to the table so he would not move.

“The defendant [Rumpler] and another teacher, started beating the student with a belt and using a stick for several hours, all while the student was crying, shouting for help and asking them to stop,” the indictment says.

The child suffered from swelling and bleeding, and was unable to stand after the severe beating, according to the indictment.

In another incident, Rumpler suspected a student of lying.

The child was stripped of his clothes and left with his pants and shirt, and laid down on a table.

“Then two of the teachers started whipping the complainant in the back and bottom for about an hour, all while the defendant, the school principal and the other teachers watched the act,” reads the indictment.

Currently, members of the Lev Tahor cult are seeking to leave Guatemala and enter Iran via Iraqi Kurdistan, possibly in order to evade legal problems arising from the various forms of abuse that are alleged to take place within the group.

This week, members of Lev Tahor sought to cross into Mexico and fly from there toward their final destination in Iran but were sent back to Guatemala by Mexican authorities.

Last week, cult members sought to embark on flights from Guatemala City but were prevented from doing so by security officials there.

The group numbers some 250 people. Around 100 are adults and approximately 150 are children.

Since arriving in Guatemala, they have generally not encountered any difficulties with the authorities but may now be ready to leave because of the treatment of children in the group.

In Israel, the sister of one of the Lev Tahor members and the father of a woman in the cult have called on the Israeli authorities to try and extricate the children of their relatives from the group.

The relatives claim that the children of the cult live in poverty, do not have enough food, and are forced to marry in their early teens, while ongoing abuse is also suspected.