The underage pregnant girlfriend of slain 18-year-old naval cadet Raz Attias was unduly pressured by the religious anti-abortion organization Efrat to continue her unwanted pregnancy, her older sister said in a statement on Sunday.
Describing her sister’s condition as very poor, the woman said that volunteers from Efrat brainwashed her sister into keeping her unborn child, which led her to decide to put an end to her life. “Efrat volunteers come without any parental permission and brainwash the children,” said the sister.
The organization has denied being in contact with the girl, whose identity has been withheld because she is a minor.
Raz Attias was shot dead by volunteer police officers in a secluded forest near Beit Shemesh late Thursday night, following a car chase and a brief gun fight. According to the police, Attias and his pregnant girlfriend had decided to commit suicide together due to pressure by his parents to end the pregnancy and the relationship.
Confronted by police after the chase, Attias’s girlfriend told investigators that she “got cold feet,” changed her mind and got out of the car. Attias then opened fire and injured one officer, and was killed by return fire.
Police were alerted to their plan to commit the double suicide after receiving a letter Attias sent to Channel 2 News.
Attias’s mother, Ricky Attias said that when she and her son visited the girl last week, when she was briefly hospitalized with abdominal pains, a volunteer from Efrat was there with her.
Ruth Tidhar, director of treatment for Efrat, was quoted by Army Radio as saying that Efrat does not send representatives to visit pregnant women in hospitals.
Dr. Eliyahu Schussheim, the chairman of Efrat, told Ynet News that the organization has had no contact with the girl, but he allowed for the possibility that others, familiar with the work and the goals of Efrat, took it upon themselves to intervene.
MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) also questioned Efrat’s involvement and announced that she would contact the Ministry of Health over the issue. Zuaretz called Efrat an “irresponsible missionary organization,” adding that its activities in hospitals are a very serious concern.
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