Cult leader with 18 kids, in prison for sexual violations, dies suddenly

Written by on June 10, 2022

Convicted sexual abuser, cult leader and polygamist Daniel Ambash, who was serving a 26-year-sentence in the Ayalon Prison in Ramle died suddenly on Friday morning, Israel Prison Service (IPS) Spokesperson’s Unit announced. 

The “Jerusalem cult”

Dubbed the head of the “Jerusalem cult,” Ambash was indicted on 18 out of 20 criminal charges back in 2013, including possession under slavery conditions, cruel treatment of minors, false imprisonment and severe sex and abuse violations, in Jerusalem as well as near Tiberias in the north. 

Ambash, a Breslov hassid, was supposed to get out in July 2039, in what has been characterized by police as one of the worst cases of abuse in Israel. He was married to six wives and had 18 kids.

Testimonies, private journals and medical records greatly helped the police to get the details of the case at the time. 

Women from the Ambash cult speak outside the election committee meeting where political parties running for a spot in the upcoming Israeli elections, arrive to present the party list for the September 2019 elections, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on August 1, 2019. (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)

Ambash had been hospitalized in the Shamir Medical Center, formerly known as Assaf Harofeh Medical Centerin Tzrifin, and was released to the prison clinic, where he lost consciousness. He died shortly after.

The cause of his death is still unknown and is being investigated by Israel Police. The prison’s release committee was set to hold a hearing next week to determine if he get released early for medical reasons. 

The charges

Nine people were charged in the original case: Ambash himself, two men who helped him and assisted in carrying out punishments that the cult leader deemed necessary due to having “forbidden thoughts” and the six wives who themselves experienced various forms of abuse. 

The cult members physically assaulted the dozens of children in the cult, considered part of the “extended family.” Punishments included rape, indecent acts, physical restraint, getting hit with a wooden stick, electric shocks and cables, and more. 

Ambash’s wives

In one of the instances detailed to the court, Ambash took one of his wives out to the garden in the middle of the night, sprayed her with water, dragged her by her hair, and demanded to know how many men she had slept with before him. In another, he forced another wife to put her head in a toilet, and flushed water over her until she choked. 

A few of them decided to run for Knesset in 2019 under the party name Kama, with the stated goal of fighting for greater individual liberties. 

Since the conviction, his wives have maintained Ambash’s innocence and insisted they never experienced abuse at his hand. Three of them appealed to the court for a conjugal visit back in 2018. They were denied. 

Three months ago, Ambash appealed to the court to allow three of his wives to visit, which it had previously forbade due to them being his victims. 

Maariv contributed to this report. 

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