Court to Rule on Transfer of 'Starved' Boy From Hadassah

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court will hold a hearing today on the possible relocation from Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, of the 3-year-old allegedly starved by his mother. The child's condition and the arrest of his ultra-Orthodox mother sparked large-scale rioting in Jerusalem over the past two weeks.

Sources at Hadassah told Haaretz the hospital's representatives will submit to the court an opinion on allowing the transfer of the child to a different hospital. Hadassah declined official comment.

In the last few days, ultra-Orthodox community leaders have been trying to arrange for the boy's discharge from hospital or at least to relocate him to a different hospital. One of the rumors that has spread in the ultra-Orthodox communities is that the hospital staff had been "experimenting" on the child, thus causing his emaciated condition. The hospital said the matter should only be decided in a court hearing.

Earlier this week Haaretz reported on an agreement between Hadassah and representatives of the Eda Haredit that was allegedly reached at a meeting attended by the Professor Shlomo Mor-Yossef, director general of the hospital, at the home of Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss, one of the ultra-Orthodox community's leading adjudicators. The meeting was arranged by Professor Eliezer Rachmilevitch, a senior physician who had worked at Hadassah for 33 years and today runs the hematology department at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

According to the arrangement, the child will be removed from Hadassah, and the leaders of the Eda Haredit will begin working to reverse the boycott of the hospital by the ultra-Orthodox community. The boy will then be transferred to the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, after an agreement was reached with the medical center's Safra Pediatric Hospital. However, senior Hadassah officials denied any such agreement has been been reached and expressed outrage at the report of its existence.

Sources in the Sheba Medical Center administration said that "if Sheba is approached to take in the child, we will do so gladly, but so far no formal communication have been received on this matter from Hadassah."

At the court hearing today, the boy's family is expected to state that if he requires medical treatment, they would prefer he receives it elsewhere.

A statement by Hadassah said the "reports of an agreement with Hadassah are unfounded fiction. Hadassah didn't agree to anything with anyone, and has not been in communication with any other hospital. The child had been hospitalized in Hadassah by a court order, and the hospital will present its position to the court at the hearing."

Meanwhile, the welfare offices in Jerusalem's Bukharian Quarter, closed after attacks on its workers by ultra-Orthodox protesters, have not resumed activity. The protesters were irate about so-called collaboration between the office's social workers and the police. On Sunday, workers returned to the office for the first time since the protests began, but a mob attacked the building, and it was shut again. One of the workers said she had received death threats.