New Details Emerge on Israeli Teen Found Locked in Apartment

Experts now say the boy, 14, was not held captive and speaks fluent Hebrew despite lack of schooling; parents could be allowed custody on condition boy gets his own bed

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

Local welfare officials met Sunday with the parents of the 14-year-old Israeli boy they are suspected of neglecting because they had never sent him to school. The Hadera boy is still in the hospital under an emergency order removing him from his home for a week. During the meeting no decision was made about whether to send the boy home or remove him for a longer term.

Welfare officials said the boy needs to undergo a thorough and comprehensive psychological evaluation, and that his relationship with his parents and their parenting abilities must also be examined. The officials said that all options were open and were being examined to make the optimum decision for the boy’s good. Nor has it been decided whether the boy will be sent to school or if he will be educated in some framework at home.

If the boy is allowed to go back home, his parents will presumably have to abide by several conditions, including cleaning their home and emptying it of trash hoarded items. Welfare officials believe the parents are compulsive hoarders. The boy would also have to have his own bed, after sleeping with his parents in their bed for years. The entire arrangement would be subject to court approval.

It was disclosed on Sunday that in contrast to what was previously believed, the the teen had not been locked up at home but was allowed to wander around Hadera and was familiar with various sites and locations in the city.

According to sources involved with the case, the boy is intelligent, fluent in Hebrew and occasionally acted as an interpreter to facilitate communication between welfare officials and his parents, who immigrated to Israel from Russia. The boy apparently picked up Hebrew from books and movies, and he is knowledgeable in many fields, including history and Israel’s wars.

There was also a meeting on Sunday attended by Hadera Mayor Zvi Gendelman, the city manager and the heads of the relevant municipal departments, who discussed the boy’s case focusing particularly on how it had gone unnoticed that the boy was never registered for school. Their conclusion was that there isn’t proper synchronization between Interior Ministry records and those of the educational system, which raises the question of how many other such cases there might be.

The Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child is slated to meet on Monday on the case with representatives of all the relevant ministries to determine how the boy fell through the cracks.

The parents’ attorney said that they are in severe financial distress and had done what they thought was best for their son, who has medical issues.

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