Lehava head Bentzi Gopstein
Lehava head Bentzi GopsteinIsrael National News

This week alone, the Lehava organization received two urgent calls for help, both related to serious harassment perpetrated by illegal Palestinian-Arab laborers working in the center of the country.

The first case relates to a haredi high-school girl learning in the center of the country who was sexually assaulted by a Palestinian laborer working in a construction site not far from her school.

"He was undressed and he was running after me, trying to do what he had planned," the girl related. Traumatized, the girl told her school's principal what had happened, and the principal submitted a complaint to the police, as a result of which the Arab concerned was kept away from the construction site - until just two weeks later, when he returned.

Bentzi Gopstein, founder and head of Lehava, told Israel National News that he was shocked at how quickly the Arab reappeared at the construction site, despite the complaint against him. "In the majority of such cases, haredi girls don't want to go to the police," he relates. "They assume that the police won't do anything anyway, and there's also something of a stigma about being involved in a police complaint. In this case, we see that finally, a complaint was lodged with the police - and lo and behold, they did nothing to bring the perpetrator to justice."

Not only the Arab in question, but also others working on the same site have continued to harass the haredi girls who have to pass by on their way to and from school. The laborers blow them kisses, wave at them from the windows, and no one intervenes. "As soon as we received the appeal for help, I contacted the local government in that particular city and asked them to conduct a proper investigation. Only then did someone in a position of authority take the issue in hand and this particular laborer was finally removed from the construction site," Gopstein says.

The second case brought to Lehava's attention this week relates to a married haredi woman living in a haredi town, also in the center of the country. "This case is no less shocking than the first," Gopstein notes. "A laborer who was employed in a haredi town started to harass a married woman. He was calling her on the phone and then it progressed to him going to her home and trying to get in and touch her.

"When she pushed him away, he started sending other laborers to her house to harass her. Ever since, this woman has lived in terror and her life has become a nightmare. She's afraid to leave the house in case one of these Arabs ambushes her, and she won't ever leave the house at night. Lehava has sent her one of our female volunteers who accompanies her whenever she goes out and doesn't leave her for a moment."

Gopstein stresses that neither of these two women feel that the authorities are at all interested in their plight. "It's time we internalized the fact that bringing illegal Arab laborers into our towns and cities is causing a disaster."

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