Parents of Captive Israeli Teen Released; Suspected of Neglect, Not Child Abuse

The parents will continue to be allowed to meet with the youth as the welfare authorities decide where he should be allowed to live in the future

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The house where the boy was found.
The house where the boy was found.Credit: Gil Eliyahu
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

The parents of the 14-year-old boy found locked in a Hadera apartment for years are suspected of severe neglect but not child abuse, the police said Thursday as they released the parents under certain restrictions.

On Friday the boy was allowed to see his parents under the supervision of a police officer and a social worker. According to the Social Affairs Ministry, he was agitated and only his parents could calm him down they were also in the apartment when he was found.

The ministry said the youth was very protective of his parents and is very attached to them. The boy and the couple will meet again under supervision later in the day and on Saturday.

In an initial psychiatric examination, the boy was found to be normal. He speaks properly in both Hebrew and Russian.

He will remain in the hospital until Sunday for further physical and psychological tests. The ministry said it would not remove the boy from his parents’ custody until their parental capabilities were examined.

On Sunday, Hadera officials including the mayor will discuss the boy’s case, while education and welfare officials will decide on his care.

“We would like to thank the police for their quick investigation, which proved that these were empty suspicions and that the parents did not harm their child,” said the parents’ lawyers, Dan Gilad and Igor Glider from the Public Defender’s Office. “We hope the welfare authorities will help the parents in their plight,” they said in a statement.

The police found the youth in a sealed, neglected apartment. The police suspect that his parents the mother is 57 and the father is in his 60s had kept him locked up there almost continuously for about eight years. The parents moved to Israel from Russia in the 1990s.

The boy was discovered after neighbors complained to environmental inspectors about the stench emanating from the apartment. Inspectors found the apartment sealed and called in the police and rescue forces, who broke in. They found the boy neglected and confused. The boy reportedly told the authorities in Hebrew he was all right.

In 2009 the family moved to Hadera, which is between Tel Aviv and Haifa, but the family never reported the existence of the boy, municipal records state. He has not been registered with any school in Hadera since 2009. The family was not known to the city’s welfare authorities, or to those in Netanya down the coast, where the family lived before moving to Hadera.

The boy told welfare officials that his parents took him out into the building’s courtyard once every two weeks for about half an hour. He usually slept with them in their double bed and spent the entire day at home, he added.

The Social Affairs Ministry said the apartment was full of various items, suggesting that the parents might suffer from a hoarding disorder. The boy also reportedly has two adult sisters who do not live with their parents and whom the authorities are trying to locate.

According to Gilad, who represents the mother, his client said “that she acted out of concern for her son, who suffers from medical problems, and that the boy was receiving medical care. The mother is upset and is in a difficult emotional state, mainly out of concern for her son’s situation.”

The family has been living off guaranteed income since February 2016.

Glider, who represents the father, said the parents had severe financial problems. The son was born with serious medical problems and they were taking care of him.

“The case raises serious questions about the functioning of the authorities who did not help the family,” and the authorities should be investigated too, Glider said.

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