A 70-year-old ultra-Orthodox woman found herself the target of a brutal religious hate crime on Monday night, when four thugs broke into her home and beat her up before leaving her handcuffed and bleeding.
"They were sent by the Modesty Patrol," the woman, S., told Yedioth Ahronoth. "They told me, 'You are destroying the neighborhood with you missionary teachings."
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The thugs hit her repeatedly with a metal rod, breaking her right hand, crushing her left leg and injuring her face. They used their cell phones to document the attack, evidently to report back to those who sent them.
Jerusalem police investigators confirmed that the attack was religiously-motivated.
"It's clear that this wasn't a robbery," a source close to the investigation said. "The suspects didn't come to the apartment to steal property, but to send a message."
S. made aliyah from the United States two decades ago. She has two sons, one of whom resides in Israel, while the other lives in the US. On Sunday, she was supposed to travel to the US to attend her grandson's Brit Milah. Instead, she was hospitalized at the Hadassah-Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Over the past eight years, S. has been living alone at a primarily haredi area of Jerusalem's Nachlaot neighborhood, and has been teaching women who wish to convert to Judaism.
"They thought that I'm a missionary because I teach non-Jewish women," S. said.
'You have bad influence on neighborhood'
On Monday night, a haredi man claiming to be a beggar came to her door and asked for spare change. Less than a minute after he left, she heard another knock on her door. This time, four masked men in gloves forced their way in, cuffed her and searched her home.
"They yelled, where are the video tapes, where's the computer," S. recalled. They didn't find any tapes, but took her laptop and her cell phone, and left.
S. managed to get up and get help, but when she stepped outside she realized the nightmare wasn't over. The assailants were still in the yard; they forced her back into her home and brutalized her.
"They yelled, you have a bad influence on our neighborhood," she said. "I knew there were rumors in the neighborhood that I'm a missionary, because they see non-Jewish women entering my home, but I'm only helping them convert to Judaism."
When they finally left again, the neighbors called emergency services, and informed her son, who reiterated the suspicion that his mother was targeted by the Modesty Patrol.
The haredi extremist group is known for violently targeting religious individuals who act in a way they deem unworthy of the ultra-Orthodox world.
The police launched an investigation but has yet to apprehend suspects.