People in the neighborhood where the woman suspected of deliberately starving her 3-year-old son lives are speaking of a "disaster."
However, while neighbors are clucking their tongues in concern over the mother and particularly the baby, it seems the woman's family are ready to ignite a "holy war" against the authorities in an attempt to clear her name and end what they call her "persecution."
The first sign of the family's intention was on Sunday, when they sidestepped a court-imposed gag order and instead engaged in the time honored ultra-Orthodox tradition of local community reportage via wall posters or pashkavilim - a common site on the bulletin boards and walls that line the streets of religious neighborhoods like Jerusalem's Mea Shearim, where she lives.
In this case, the screaming headline "scandal!" is followed by the story, as the posters describe her, of nothing more than a devoted ultra-Orthodox mother who has been the victim of a "medieval-style blood libel."
Relatives say the "libel" began because the woman complained to doctors that they had not managed to cure her son.
Relatives also said the welfare authorities had set a trap for the woman and taken advantage of her faith in them by calling her into the welfare bureau in her neighborhood, where police were waiting to arrest her.
The family denies that the woman had been starving the toddler. One male relative responded to police allegations that she had fed her son unidentified substances by saying that the baby had pestered her constantly to give them to her.
"So let's say she added grape juice or something else," he said. "Does that mean she wanted to murder him? That's a reason to put a woman who is five months pregnant in jail?"
The posters also claim that Hadassah doctors experiment on patients and that the hospital has an unofficial policy of leveling charges of abuse and neglect against ultra-Orthodox parents who bring their children in for treatment.
"Do not be misled by the fine flattering words of a nurse or social worker," the poster states.
Security was tightened Sunday at two welfare bureaus in Mea Shearim after they were vandalized.
Along with the wall-poster campaign, the family is making major efforts to draft support for the woman from leading neighborhood rabbis of the extremist sect to which she belongs.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now