TEL AVIV – A Jewish woman from Kurdistan has fled to Israel after her Muslim husband threatened to sell her to the Islamic State.
Baher Muhammad Gahar-Fur, 35, was born in Sulaymaniyah, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Ten years ago, Gahar-Fur discovered she was Jewish, but she grew up “in a standard Muslim home,” in her words.
At 15 years old, Gahar-Fur married a Muslim Kurd and bore four children, now 5, 11, 15 and 16.
Her husband gradually became radicalized over the years, and his extremism spilled over into domestic abuse. He exerted pressure on Gahar-Fur to become more religious. After a particularly bloody night, her husband told her that he was going to sell her for $2,200 to a group of IS fighters who were approaching their village.
The next morning, after her husband had left for work, Gahar-Fur packed a suitcase and fled to the Turkish border. Distraught, she felt she had no choice but to leave her children behind.
Since Turkey does not permit Kurds to enter, Baher was smuggled in with a group of Syrian refugees.
While in Turkey, Gahar-Fur met with Eli Domenz, a Turkish-Israeli businessman with connections to the Turkish government. Domenz set her up in a safe house and contacted the Israeli government.
Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri ordered the woman’s request to travel to Israel be expedited and a month later, Gahar-Fur found herself in Israel on a tourist visa.
Deri met Gahar-Fur on Thursday.
“This is literally about saving lives,” Deri said. “It is the [Jewish law of] redeeming captives in a true and absolute sense.”
Gahar-Fur is currently residing in a community in the south, where extended family live. Deri said he would make every effort to locate more members of her family.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry is investigating Gahar-Fur’s roots in order to provide her with permanent residency.
“I love Israel and hope to be reunited with my family,” Gahar-Fur said as she wrapped an Israeli flag around herself.