Is nothing sacred?
Israeli police say they have busted a crime ring that preyed on beggars at the Western Wall.
The three-month-investigation determined that the gang would extort half the money from beggars, had burned the beggars with cigarette butts, and would sometimes dress up as beggars themselves.
"To great sorrow, it is clear, on the basis of the investigative material and good intelligence work, that criminal elements did not skip over the Western Wall, which is holy to all of us," the judge in the case said.
Western Wall beggars have always posed a conundrum for Jerusalem.
A few years ago, Western Wall officials tried to ban begging at the Western Wall after the number of beggars exploded and they became more aggressive in seeking money.
One abusive beggar reportedly approached some German tourists and tried to play on their guilt.
"You killed our people, now give some money," the beggar reportedly demanded.
"It is a great shame that the deeds of a few cause such a harsh blow to charity and to a disgrace of God. In my conception and outlook it is part of the atmosphere of the Western Wall Plaza to be charitable and it is sad that such a thing must be impeded," said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, rabbi of the Western Wall. "But to my regret my requests and pleading were not accepted and this situation of enforcement was forced on us all. How can we stand to see fellow Jews being forcibly removed from the Western Wall? Is this what we’ve dreamed of? Definitely not!"
Beggars still camp out near the wall, and now it is the criminal gangs, acting as Holy Land bullies, that are creating the newest problems at the Western Wall.
The gang allegedly made good money beating up the Western Wall beggars, and more arrests are expected to come soon.