Court Appoints Trustee in Deporation Case of Thai Mother and Israeli Daughter

‘You read it and you don’t believe it,’ says trustee representing Danielle Lev, 7, of state’s deportation order

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Students at Danielle's school protesting against her deportation in Tel Aviv, in November.
Students at Danielle's school protesting against her deportation in Tel Aviv, in November.Credit: Moti Milrod
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

A family court has appointed a trustee for an Israeli girl facing deportation together with her non-Israeli mother.

A deportation order has been issued against the mother, Kultida Lev, a Thai national and widow of an Israeli man who died while she was in the middle of the naturalization process.

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Also on Monday, the Jerusalem District Court – which refused last month to temporarily freeze Lev’s deportation – agreed to reconsider that decision, as well as Lev’s appeal of her deportation. Judge Anat Singer wrote that new evidence, including an opinion by a private psychiatrist, provides grounds for rehearing the case. The rehearing will take place early next month.

The family court’s decision to appoint attorney David Tadmor as trustee for Danielle Lev is meant to enable her to be represented in legal proceedings on her mother’s case, since the decision will obviously affect her directly. Tadmor, who is handling the 7-year-old girl’s case pro bono, will be authorized to represent her in any matter directly or indirectly connected to her mother’s deportation.

Danielle Lev and her mother.Credit: Gilad Lev

“Danielle is an Israeli girl in every respect,” Tadmor said following the decision. “It’s impossible to deport her from Israel, and it’s impossible to orphan her of her mother. In defiance of the requirements of the law, her voice hasn’t been heard in the proceedings for her mother’s deportation. We intend to do everything possible to correct this injustice and give Danielle the childhood she deserves – in Israel together with her mother.”

Tadmor filed the request to appoint a trustee for Danielle last Thursday on behalf of her father’s brother, Gilad Lev. The request argued that the issue of her mother’s deportation is extremely important to the girl’s physical and psychological health, well-being and future, since it would force Danielle to either lose both her parents or be deported herself despite her Israeli citizenship.

Yet so far, the request continued, neither the authorities nor the courts have considered her welfare and her rights, and no educational, psychiatric or social worker’s opinion about the deportation’s effect on her has been submitted to any court.

“You read it and don’t believe it,” Tadmor wrote. “The entire issue of Danielle, a minor, has remained neglected, unconsidered, undiscussed and unexamined.”

Her father, Shmulik Lev, met Kultida, a pharmacist, during a trip to Thailand. They got married in 2013 and lived in Tel Aviv, and Danielle was born in 2014. But in 2015, Shmulik died of a heart attack at 52.

In 2019, Kultida Lev sought to renew her residency visa on the grounds that she was in the middle of the naturalization process, but the Interior Ministry refused. It also froze the naturalization process and informed her that she had to leave the country.

Losing her visa also meant that she lost all her benefits, including health insurance, child allowance and widow’s pension.

In January 2020, the ministry issued a deportation order requiring her to leave the country by July of that year, after Danielle finished first grade. Two months later, the coronavirus pandemic erupted, and Kultida sought a deferral of the deportation order on the grounds that Danielle’s schooling had been disrupted. The ministry refused, and since then, she has been living in Israel illegally.

Lev appealed the deportation to the ministry’s appellate tribunal, which rejected her appeal. She also asked that a humanitarian exception be made in her case, but again to no avail.

The ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority commented: “A tribunal ordered her to leave the country back in the beginning of 2020. The applicant decided not to honor that ruling and continued to violate the law. Now, the tribunal has ruled again that she must leave.”

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