Around 100 women claim they were enticed into relationships with a married, Zionist Orthodox man who tricked them into believing he was an IDF officer. "He sent us all pictures from Gaza, asking us to pray for him, and he wasn't even there," one woman says. Where was he? At the all-girls Zionist Orthodox seminary he heads.
Israel HaYom reports:
A married man posing as a high-ranking military officer duped dozens of women into intimate relationships after meeting them online and spinning an intricate web of lies designed to garner sympathy, Israel Hayom has learned.
The man, who in reality is married with children and the head of a Jewish women's seminary, used a fake name and told women he was a 38-year-old single man from central Israel who was a major in the Paratroopers Brigade.
After one woman created a Facebook group outing the man, more than 100 other women joined, saying they too had been lied to and hurt by him. The first official police complaint is expected to be filed on Tuesday.
According to testimony shared with Israel Hayom, the women were told the man had tragic past relationships, including one girlfriend who was run over and killed after accompanying him to the airport, and another who was fighting cancer in the hospital.
During Operation Protective Edge last summer, he apparently told several women that he was stationed deep inside the Gaza Strip, and that five of his soldiers had been killed by his side. He sent pictures of the inside of armored personal carriers, adding color to his dramatic stories, the women said.
"He said he had a lot of money, property and family connections," said B., a 36-year-old single mother from central Israel who began a relationship with him in May 2014. "He said he worked for the Defense Ministry at several 'cover companies,' one of which worked to track funding to terrorist organizations."
At the seminary where he works, the man is in close contact with young women completing national service and with other young people.
According to B., "There's no question that he is a psychopath. He so calmly defrauded so many women over such a long period of time. He is evil incarnate. He would say over and over again, 'It is going to change soon, I will finish my reserve duty and this work, and we will be free to get out there and live out lives,' as if he hoped some woman would take him out of this hell, out of the elaborate trick.
"He said he was religious, but he was the furthest thing from God and religion."
'Your entire self is just devoted to him'
One of the women who said she was hurt by him did extensive research, and eventually uploaded his family photos online.
"I didn't have it in me to post it to the group with so many women I don't know, but it's enough for me if I manage to save one more person from this," she wrote.
B. said the manipulation took a turn for the worse during Operation Protective Edge.
"He used every bit of information to extort emotion, including saying that he was depressed because his friends had been killed while fighting alongside him," she said.
"He wrote to me, 'We took a bad beating. Many of my soldiers were killed,' and it broke my heart. All you can think about is this company commander in the Paratroopers Brigade, and your entire self is just devoted to him."
A 33-year-old woman from Hod Hasharon shared her experience, saying, "There was no writing on the wall. He got into character and stuck with it until the end. Now I am concerned for the girls at the seminary. They are 'crazy for him,' and he gives lectures on education. I saw a lecture he gave on controlling your evil impulses. It's shocking. This 'charm' must be stopped."
According to Aya, a 32-year-old single mother, "The women are talking about pursuing a civil suit. If everyone does, or at least if his wife starts the divorce process, then I will join them, and the same goes for a police complaint. I am getting married soon and starting this case now is just not suitable."
Iris, 39, from Beersheba, said she met the educator on the dating application Tinder: "Who could imagine that he is married? I knew that he was somewhat religious, and that he disappeared every weekend. He was all over the country in his officer's uniform that had all the correct ranks. He never made a mistake, he was very consistent with his story.
"He sent us all pictures from Gaza, asking us to pray for him and his soldiers -- and he wasn't even there."
Another woman, 39-year-old Hila, met him on a dating site six years ago.
"He would ask to meet in quiet areas, saying that he was with people all day long and had no energy to be around lots of people," she said. "To be honest, I fell in love with him immediately. I was desperate for a relationship. This kind of stupidity happens to us all."
However, the man slipped up in keeping his story consistent, Hila said.
"Toward the end of our relationship, he told me that his friend had died. A few months later, we got back in touch and he told me there had been a miracle and that his friend had awoken from his coma. In my eyes, there was one dominant theme in these relationships -- sex. That's all there was between us," she said.
Aya added that "there are women who are just torn apart by him, by these stories where he is always the hero. These stories just make you want to run to him and hug him, to protect him. He is great at telling stories, like fairy tales. Now we need to stop this crazy cycle."
The principal of the seminary where the man works sent a statement to Israel Hayom saying: "There is no side to take and no response. Everything will be revealed with the police; a different picture will come forward. As of now, none of these women have come forward to me or complained."