Photo Credit: Mike Leibsohn / Wikimedia
The Bedouin town of Hura, located along Highway 31 in southern Israel, between Be'er Sheva and Arad.

A Bedouin sheik and a doctor working at one of the hospitals in the south of Israel were arrested overnight Monday on suspicion of involvement in the death of a 26-year-old Bedouin woman from the south after an exorcism ritual. The deceased’s husband, 25, also a Bedouin, was arrested as well.

The three suspects are relatives of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. They were brought before the Magistrate’s Court in Be’er Sheva on Monday morning. The young woman’s body was taken to the Institute of Forensic Medicine.


Police suspect that the young woman felt sick last Saturday and turned for help to a 64-year-old sheik, a former senior member of the Islamic Movement who practices witchcraft. During the exorcism ceremony that was conducted by the sheik, the young woman collapsed and was evacuated to a local clinic in Tel Sheva, where she was treated by her relative, a doctor, 32, who also works in one of the hospitals in the south. He called her death.

The victim’s brother-in-law told Channel 13 News: “We understand that he (the sheik) strangled her as part of the treatment. She came in alive and came out dead. I don’t understand, why did he have to strangle her?”

The young woman’s husband’s attorney, Moti Yosef, told Israel Hayom: “First of all, this is a tragedy, and from the start, I must say that the husband is not connected to anything and he does not even know what happened there, beyond the fact that his wife did not feel well. Usually, in the Bedouin sector, it is customary to take people in such situations to sheiks, who know how to treat them, say all kinds of magic words from the Koran, and so on. He placed his wife with the sheik and then realized something was messy there. It turned out that as part of the treatment process, the person actually gets strangled, so apparently, he (the sheik) strangled her and she lost consciousness. “Then he called a doctor, they tried to resuscitate her, the doctor called an ambulance and the police and from what I understood, this is the whole story.”

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