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A 36-year-old Herzliya woman was arrested yesterday for allegedly abusing her sons, ages 6 and 8.

Police suspect the woman regularly beat the children with her hands and a stick, and would withhold food and leave them unsupervised for hours at a time.

The police became involved after the children told after-school program workers about their problems at home. The older child told a worker that his mother left him and his brother alone, and that they were frequently hungry; the younger child said that his mother had hit him.

Chief Superintendent Shimon Lavi said the children "were questioned by Social Affairs Ministry investigators. The investigation raised suspicions that the boys were abused and neglected by their mother."

When the police interrogated the mother yesterday, she admitted to some of the allegations. She was then taken to the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court and remanded for 24 hours.

Her children were placed in the custody of the welfare services.

The woman's lawyer said the case was a matter of a dispute between her client and the children's father, who are separated. The abuse allegations have not been substantiated, the lawyer added.

Herzliya welfare officials are familiar with the family, which has had documented parenting issues and financial issues. As a result, the 6-year-old was placed in an after-school program, designed to make it easier on the parents and to promote the child's development.

City social workers had not received reports of violence or neglect involving the children until recently, even though program staffers encouraged the children to talk about their home life.