A 37-year-old Kiryat Gat man was arrested on Thursday evening on suspicion of stabbing his 14-year-old to death in their apartment. The boy’s mother told police that no family argument had preceded the stabbing. Relatives said that the man had been suffering from hallucinations in recent days.
The police suspect that the father’s actions came as a result of his mental state. The man has not been cooperating with investigators. He has no criminal record and is under treatment by the city’s mental health services. According to preliminary findings, the man was recently treated by an alternative medicine therapist because he was under mental stress, and police are looking into whether he had taken any mind-altering substances before attacking his son.
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Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court Judge Dorit Bonda extended the father’s detention by seven days and imposed a gag order on his name and any pictures of him.
At the hearing about extending the father’s detention, the judge said that there was testimony claiming that the man had auditory hallucinations, but that at this point, a professional opinion could not determine unequivocally that he was in a psychotic state when he attacked his son. She said that further testimony suggested that he seemed to be mentally stressed before the incident. She sent the father for a psychiatric assessment in order to establish whether he was fit to stand trial and whether he was responsible for his actions.
Relatives said that the man was receiving alternative-medicine treatment, following which he suffered from hallucinations. “He was a completely regular guy, beloved by everyone,” a relative said. “He went to get holistic treatment and went through hypnosis. He may have gotten the wrong kind of pill during his treatment. He told a friend a day before the incident that the pill caused him to hallucinate. He didn’t have a crisis. In recent days we felt that something was wrong with him, possibly because of the pill he took.”
The man’s brother told journalists outside the courtroom that the man was taking psychiatric medication after complaining recently that he was having hallucinations. “He consulted with his rabbi in Jerusalem. He loved his son deeply and lost control,” he said, adding that the father got the pills from the alternative-medicine therapist.
Late Wednesday night, the boy’s mother called the police and told them that her husband had stabbed their eldest son with a knife. The father fled the house and police officers who came to the scene found him in a nearby wood. An emergency medical team was also summoned and tried to resuscitate the boy. He was taken to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, where he was pronounced dead. The Kiryat Gat municipality said that the boy’s family, which belongs to the Ger Hasidic group, was not known to the city’s welfare services. The head of the city’s police force said the family has multiple children.
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A neighbor said that she had not seen any signs indicating potential problems: “I saw him every morning, going to synagogue with his prayer shawl. I saw a father who seemed like a good person, and then such a tragedy happens. It’s shocking.” When asked if she’d heard unusual sounds from the apartment before the murder, she said she hadn’t. “Everything was quiet until late in the evening,” she said. “I didn’t hear a thing. It’s inconceivable, it’s hard to digest.”