UNDER the shroud of darkness, alleged sex offender Malka Leifer was seen boarding a plane at Ben Gurion Airport, as she was extradited from Israel in the early hours of Monday morning (Israel time).
Transferred to the airport from Neve Tirza women’s prison, Leifer’s departure occurred just hours before Ben Gurion will shut down for one week in an effort to protect the country against coronavirus mutations.
Currently en route to Australia via Frankfurt, Germany, it is understood that Leifer is being escorted by members of Victoria Police.
The development is the culmination of 74 court hearings and an arduous six-year legal battle, and comes 13 years since the principal of the Adass Israel school fled to Israel from Melbourne when abuse allegations against her first surfaced.
Since then, her alleged victims sisters Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper have worked tirelessly, campaigning to have her returned to Australia in order to face justice – and in the process garnering widespread support with the #BringLeiferBack movement.
Malka Leifer is now on a plane heading back to Australia! Her flight was to last to leave Israel before the airport closes. She is flying to Melbourne via Frankfurt. Feel so grateful for @dassi_erlich @NicoleYMeyer @EllySapper pic.twitter.com/DIw89g5J52
— Ittay Flescher (@ittay78) January 25, 2021
Welcoming the footage of Leifer boarding the plane after “this protracted saga”, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler charged, “That Leifer was allowed to escape justice for so long was a travesty.”
“While it’s a relief that Israel’s justice system has finally prevailed, the time and process that resulted in these delays are completely unacceptable.”
Paying tribute to the tenacity of Erlich, Meyer and Sapper, Leibler said, “That she [Leifer] is coming is largely due to the tireless efforts of Dassi Erlich and her sisters, as well as their support network. It is they who kept up the pressure and who never gave up.”
Echoing Leibler’s sentiments, co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry Alex Ryvchin said, “We welcome the news from Israel that Malka Leifer is now en route to Australia following the completion of her extradition process after many years of delay and deception by Leifer that caused tremendous suffering to her alleged victims.
“We hope that this dark chapter will soon come to a close.”
Meanwhile, AIJAC national chairman, Mark Leibler said, “We hope the images of Malka Leifer being escorted onto a plane to Australia will bring some satisfaction to her many alleged victims.”
“Her alleged victims have endured so much for so long and we hope this news has brought them a renewed sense of relief and strength as their pursuit of justice continues.”
Recognising the “long-term commitment of those in the Israeli government including a personal reassurance from President Reuven Rivlin, in achieving this outcome”, AIJAC executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein acknowledged “the essential role of the independent Israeli justice system which pursued Malka Leifer’s extradition for so many years, so doggedly”.
More coverage in this week’s AJN, out Thursday.