November 24, 2006
Benny Sela, convicted in 2000 of being the “Tel Aviv serial rapist,” escapes while being transported to a court hearing in Tel Aviv. While handcuffed, he eludes two police guards and scales a 7½-foot fence.
His escape is an embarrassment for the police and the prison service, and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter calls it a “huge failure.” Searches in the Tel Aviv area fail to locate Sela, who manages to reach and hide out in the north of the country. Some 2,000 officers around the country are mobilized to hunt for Sela, and police capture him Dec. 8 at Lohamei HaGeta’ot, a kibbutz in the western Galilee. He receives an additional four years in prison for the escape and various crimes he commits while on the lam.
He was sentenced in December 2000 to 35 years and nine months at Eshel Prison in Beersheba for sexually assaulting 14 women. He was suspected in almost 40 rape and sexual assault cases in the 1990s.
Born in 1971, Sela grew up in the Hatikvah Quarter of southern Tel Aviv, an area known for poverty. As a young boy, he saw his alcoholic father commit suicide. He was moved into foster care and spent a lot of time at Sha’ar HaGolan, the kibbutz where he is believed to have committed his first rape in 1985.