(Illustration) Thinkstock

Canadian Department of Immigration officials swooped down on the Lev Tahor anti-Zionist cult's compound in Ontario on Wednesday, arresting several members of the group who were in Canada illegally.

The group started receiving public attention last November after it fled to Ontario from Quebec to escape an investigation of child abuse and insufficient education. In early March, members of the group tried unsuccessfully to flee again, this time to Guatemala, after Ontario upheld court orders to remove 13 children to foster care.

Uriel Goldman, who acts as spokesperson for the cult, defended the group while speaking to the Toronto Sun. Goldman claimed attempts had been made to clarify the legal status of those members who were in the country illegally.

The spokesperson accused the authorities of trying to destroy Lev Tahor, claiming that in Ontario there are thousands of illegal workers but Lev Tahor was specifically targeted.

Lev Tahor intends to fight the court order that had seven of the 13 children designated for foster care taken from the group several weeks ago; in the court battle it will be represented by Toronto attorney Gidi Maman, reports Shalom Toronto.

"Go on, hate me because I'm Jewish"

Group members have blamed Israel for their troubles in the past, claiming Israel was somehow responsible given that the group is anti-Zionist.

Furthermore, one member told CBC last month "if you want to hate me because I'm Jewish, hate me, that's what I am. Don't say that I abuse kids, because no one abused them."

The cult has reportedly engaged in shocking physical and sexual abuse. Documents in February accused group leaders of imprisoning children in basements when they misbehaved, and physically and psychologically abusing them. Some children were allegedly even sexually abused and forced to take psychotropic drugs.

Child protection officials have also reported extremely poor hygiene in homes, substandard healthcare, and cases in which children were forcibly removed from their homes and placed with other families, in addition to lacking education in basic subject such as math and English.

It was revealed last December that the group had received millions of dollars from various charity organizations. Despite that, an Israeli source familiar with the sect reported that community members live on government welfare, roughly $2,000 a month per five- or six-child family, which is received by the sect leadership and later doled out to members.