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Wanted Melbourne Teacher Arrested In Israel

A former Melbourne school teacher who claimed she was too mentally ill to face more than 70 charges of child sexual abuse has been arrested in Israel after an undercover operation.

Malka Leifer is wanted on 74 charges of abuse and is accused of sexually assaulting girls at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school before she fled to Israel.

Israel Police revealed overnight it had conducted a month-long undercover operation to monitor Ms Leifer, following an Interpol request.

"During 2017 there were indications that the suspect was pretending to be suffering from mental illness in order to avoid the extradition process," Israeli Police said in a statement.

"This morning police officers arrested a female in her 50s from Samaria suspected of obstructing court proceedings and attempting to hide evidence of a case."

In 2016, an Israeli court halted proceedings to extradite her back to Australia after finding Ms Leifer was not fit to stand trial due to mental illness.

The Israeli Department for International Affairs will now reconsider the process for extradition.

In October last year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised the issue of Ms Leifer during talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Around the same time, three of her alleged victims went to Israel to launch a campaign demanding her return to Australia.

Ms Leifer headed the school from 2003 until 2008, when she fled Australia.


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