Hundreds Attend Funeral for Infant Left in Parked Car

Some 250 friends and neighbors on Friday attended the Ramat Yishai funeral of the 7-month-old baby who died after her father left her in his locked car Thursday. Dozens of mourners embraced the young parents.

The father, Eran Balilti, left his child Ophir in his car while he went to a Kibbutz Sha'ar Ha'amakim garage to check on repairs to his quad bike. After a call from his wife, Shelly, he went to check on the baby, whom he found lifeless and severely burned.

Police said that in light of the tragedy, the father would be questioned only after the seven-day mourning period. Police also said they were waiting for the results of an autopsy, but were unsure whether an indictment would be issued.

The parents, who maintained their composure during the funeral service, held hands and were supported by Shelly Balilti's sister, who stood between them and wept throughout the ceremony. "This is the best place," the mother said to her sister, referring to the grave in the cemetery, which overlooks Mount Carmel in the distance. "The view here is beautiful, she'll have the mall in front of her, she can go shopping," she said bitterly.

The body, covered by a black cloth, was lowered into the grave. Next to it sat the baby's grandfather, who held and kissed a picture of Ophir. Ophir's aunts and relatives wept audibly. At the end of the funeral, according to tradition, a burial society worker recited the traditional request for forgiveness from the deceased if her dignity had been abused.

The father, who did not cry, stood silently, looking straight into the grave.

Police said that in cases in which parents are negligent and their children die or are injured, the police and the State Prosecutor's Office prefer to act out of consideration for the parents. "From the purely legal perspective, this is negligence and such a parent should be tried. But enough has been done to such parents, who did not act out of malice but rather innocently. Go put a parent on trial whose world has been destroyed," a police source said.

The source said there was no policy, and each case is scrutinized individually. The source added that anytime a child is injured or dies because of his parents' actions, a criminal case is opened against them and suspicion of abuse is investigated. However, neglect and malice on the part of the parents must be differentiated from an innocent act.