Woman dies in apparent exorcism; sheikh, doctor and husband arrested

26-year-old said to collapse during ceremony performed by Tel Sheva Bedouin sheikh who ‘practices witchcraft’; 3 suspects set to appear in court

A view of the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva (CC-BY Avishai Teicher/Wikipedia)
A view of the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva (CC-BY Avishai Teicher/Wikipedia)

Three people were arrested Monday morning in connection with the death of a young woman during an apparent exorcism.

The three suspects were reportedly a sheikh, a doctor and the woman’s husband.

Police said they received a report on Saturday that a 26-year-old woman was brought to a clinic in the southern town of Tel Sheva, where medics declared her death.

Officers opened an investigation and the woman’s body was taken for an autopsy.

According to Channel 12 news, the woman had been unwell and went for treatment with the Bedouin sheikh, who “practices witchcraft.” The sheikh then carried out an “exorcism ceremony,” the report said.

During the ceremony, the woman collapsed and a doctor was called to the scene before the woman was taken to the clinic.

The three suspects — a 64-year-old, a 32-year-old and a 25-year-old — all from Tel Sheva, were set to appear at Beersheba Magistrate’s Court later on Monday.

Beersheba District Court on February 15, 2021 (Flash90)

According to Channel 12, the older man is the sheikh and the 32-year-old is a doctor. The younger man was said to be the woman’s husband.

Moti Yosef, attorney for the woman’s husband, denied his client was involved.

“My client does not know what happened during the treatment other than the fact that he put her into treatment alive and unfortunately she came out dead. He has nothing to do with her death. This is a tragedy,” Yosef told Channel 12.

There have been reports over the years of a number of Palestinians dying in apparent exorcisms.

A young Palestinian man died in 2015 after being badly beaten in an exorcism in the West Bank city of Hebron. The family of the 19-year-old with mental illness had called in two “healers,” a man and a woman, who beat the young man to drive out evil “spirits,” Palestinian police sources said.

According to a report in Al-Monitor, a 17-year-old Palestinian girl died during an exorcism in February 2014, after a “healer” forced a saltwater mixture down her throat.

Other reported incidents of exorcism resulted in the deaths of two Palestinian women with mental health problems in 2011 and 1998.

AFP contributed to this report.

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