Hospital exec's life threatened over J'lem child abuse case
The Jerusalem woman suspected of starving her 3-year-old son did not appear for her scheduled psychiatric hearing yesterday, in contradiction of a compromise deal drafted by Jerusalem Magistrate's Court judge Shulamit Dotan. Also yesterday, the director of Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, where the child remains hospitalized, received an anonymous telephone call threatening his life. The caller told Dr. Yair Birenbaum that he will place an explosive device beneath his car.
The compromise agreement, which allowed the suspect's release to house arrest over the weekend, stipulated that she appear for the medical evaluation yesterday.
Dotan called an emergency hearing yesterday, once it became clear the woman did not intend to attend the evaluation. Rabbi Avraham Freulich, at whose home the woman stayed this weekend with the court's consent, said yesterday that the suspect did not see a psychiatrist because she had had trouble falling asleep the previous night.
Freulich, who did not attend the hearing, said by telephone that the psychiatrist scheduled to conduct the evaluation did not coordinate with the woman's attorneys on an appointment time, and gave too short notice for her to meet him. Freulich said the physician agreed to postpone the evaluation until today or tomorrow, and police representatives said he agreed to come to the suspect's home for the examination.
An emergency hearing will be held this afternoon, at which the court will decide what steps to take regarding the psychiatric evaluation.
The psychiatrist, Dr. Yaakov Meir Weil, told Haaretz that when he appeared yesterday at Freulich's home in Jerusalem, he was told she could not be examined because she was undergoing labor pains.
"I arrived for the evaluation, but I was told she didn't feel well, didn't sleep the whole night, and is having labor pains," he said. "I spoke with people in the area, and we decided the examination would be held as soon as possible. I'm available whenever they ask me to perform it."
The court has ordered that the woman be barred from leaving the country. Her attorneys told the court yesterday that she failed to appear at the psychological assessment due to fatigue.
Haaretz has learned that a dramatic tug-of-war has developed between representatives of the Eda Haredit, the conglomeration of isolationist ultra-Orthodox groups which has taken up the mantle of the woman's case, and state authorities. Yesterday a tense meeting was held at the home of Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss, a leading rabbinical figure within the Eda Haredit, with Freulich and Rabbi David Shmidel. Yesterday Shmidel was appointed Weiss's representative on the woman's case. Also present were leading figures from the Toldot Aharon Hasidic court, the Haredi faction to which the woman belongs.
One of the options Weiss raised at the meeting was to present the court with a request to lighten the conditions for the suspect's house arrest even before the psychiatric evaluation. Since Friday, when the woman was released from detention to house arrest, several hard-line figures within the Eda Haredit aired criticism towards the defense's agreement to conditions laid out by prosecutors. They were particularly critical of the continued restraining order keeping the woman from her son.
Also yesterday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat instructed the municipal legal adviser, Yossi Havilio, to consider filing civil suits against ultra-Orthodox residents suspected of engaging in vandalism during protests against the woman's arrest for suspected child abuse.
City officials estimate the demonstrators caused approximately NIS 1 million in damage. Protesters set some 250 garbage bins on fire, damaged municipal waste-disposal vehicles and disconnected traffic lights.
Yesterday city workers returned to their routine work in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods of Geula and Mea Shearim after the city withheld municipal services to those areas for several days for fear over the workers' safety.
Yesterday city social workers who work with ultra-Orthodox residents met with Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, and Social Affairs Ministry director-general Nahum Itzkovich. The social workers expressed optimism at their ability to restore the municipality's relations with the ultra-Orthodox community to conditions similar to those before the disturbances broke out.
"There is a good, strong foundation for work with the ultra-Orthodox population," said Social Affairs Ministry official Avigail Danieli. "This is our community. We're not angry, and I can understand their frustration."
The Knesset plenum will take the rare step of holding an unscheduled debate on the woman's case, likely on Tuesday, over both the woman's case and the response to the mass demonstrations. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said he decided to hold the debate after a majority of parliamentary factions expressed support for such a move. The Knesset speaker is entrusted with the power to call such hearings under exceptional circumstances.