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Israel-Divorce Story May Be a Hoax

March 5, 1998

JERUSALEM (AP) _ A leading Israeli rabbi has denounced as a hoax a newspaper story about a religious court forcing a man to divorce his wife because she was raped.

The story drew fierce protest from women’s groups and lawmakers when it was published Feb. 25, splashed across the magazine section of Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s largest daily newspaper.

The newspaper said Thursday it was reviewing the rabbi’s accusations.

The story said that a married mother of nine was raped by three men as she left a Jewish ritual bath in the religious Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak. The paper said a rabbinical court had then ruled that her husband must divorce her because of the rape, even though the couple wanted to stay together and raise their children.

A rabbi from the tight-knit Bnei Brak community said on Israel’s Army Radio this week that after 10 days of inquiries, ``No evidence was found to prove this story true.″

``We believe this proves that the incident never happened,″ Rabbi Micha Levy said.

Yediot Ahronot editor Alon Shalev said the paper was checking the rabbi’s allegations.

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