5-year-old Girl Found Tied Up in Central Israel Was Unknown to Authorities

The father and one of his two wives, the girl's mother, arrested for neglect and harm

The Lod home where the child was found bound in the shower, August 13, 2019.
\ Ilan Assayag

A 5-year-old girl has been found tied up, bruised and covered with feces in a shower at an apartment in Lod, a police source said.

The girl, who had bruises who was not registered with the Interior Ministry and state authorities were not aware of her existence.

Her father, a 51-year-old Israeli citizen of with two wives and 16 children, and her mother were arrested on suspicion of child neglect and causing injury to a helpless individual. Neither suspect was identified. They were both remanded in custody on Tuesday through Sunday, by Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court.

The child had scars and police suspect she suffered prolonged abuse and neglect. She was admitted in moderate condition to Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tzrifin.

The mother’s identity was unclear. Police said the man in custody had a second wife who is a Kuwaiti citizen. She may have entered Israel illegally via the West Bank city of Ramallah. She had four children with the father in custody, including the girl who was found and whose birth was never registered.

The couple’s three other children, along with their 12 half-siblings, were registered with the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority. These children, aged 2, 3 and 4, are known to the authorities, and it is not yet clear why the girl was hidden in the home. The other children were placed with a relative after the arrest of their parents.

The father’s first wife, with whom he had 12 children, lives in Jordan. Their youngest, a boy, died recently, and his surviving siblings live in Israel.

A ministry source speaking on condition of anonymity said that around two years ago the father applied for family reunification with his second wife, in the hope of obtaining legal residency for her, but was told he was ineligible because he had married two women.

At the father’s detention hearing Tuesday morning, the police representative said the girl had been tied up in the shower for several hours on Monday, adding that the father had turned off the electricity in the apartment and locked the girl inside. When the officers came, they had difficulty releasing her from the rope in which she was wrapped. The father resisted Judge Zecharia Yeminy’s proposal that the girl’s injuries be examined at the National Center of Forensic Medicine (Abu Kabir) in Tel Aviv, but his lawyers eventually agreed.

According to the police representative, the father admitted to having neglected the girl for years, but denied allegations of abuse.

The mother told the court that her daughter had an illness that causes sores and edema to the touch. She said the girl had been in the West Bank city of Tul Karm for treatment in recent months, that she had never hurt the girl and did not know who had tied her up. The police said there were inconsistencies between the mother’s version of events and the evidence found in the apartment.

During the mother’s detention hearing, on Tuesday afternoon, the judge said the photographs he was shown of the girl were “shocking.” He thought there was “no chance” she had been hurt while her parents were out of the house. “It is, at the very least, neglect,” the police representative said.

The mother told the court the apartment had been burglarized while the family, with the exception of the girl, was away, and that 40,000 shekels ($11,500) in cash and three gold chains were missing. The police are investigating her claims.

A source in the Lod department of social services said the family was not in their records, and that they were examining the condition of the other children.

The parents’ lawyers, Shukri Abu Tabik and Hai Uzan, said their clients denied that they had neglected or abused their daughter. The lawyers said the parents claim that when they left the apartment Monday evening the girl was asleep in their bed, and later a neighbor called the father and told him he heard the girl crying. The father claims he immediately returned to the apartment, but the police were already there.

Mohammed Anbusy, the mother’s public defense attorney, said after the detention hearing that his client denied any connection to the incident.

“The child has an illness and there is a suspicion that someone broke into the home. I am optimistic that in the end she will be found innocent of any crime,” a statement from Abbusy read.

The girl was scheduled to be interviewed by a child investigator to find out how long she had been tied up at home.

One of the man’s sons from his first marriage, who attended his father’s detention hearing, said “The police are inflating the whole story. That girl isn’t even his daughter, she’s his wife’s daughter.”

He said that at around 6 P.M. Monday his father called him and told him to come and get the children. “You think someone would do something like to his own child? It’s not logical.”