3-year-old Boy Dies in Tel Aviv Preschool for Refugee Children

The boy was found unconscious and taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead

Children of asylum seekers, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, wear costumes during the Purim parade festival in Tel Aviv, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018
Ariel Schalit/AP

A 3-year-old boy died Wednesday in a preschool for the children of asylum seekers in south Tel Aviv.

The boy was found unconscious and taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The teacher was questioned by police.

Earlier Wednesday the boy’s mother took him to a hospital because he didn’t feel well. He was given medication and discharged, and returned to the day care center, on Har Zion Street. During naptime, the teacher reportedly noticed that he wasn’t breathing.

Between 2010 and 2017, a total of 17 children of asylum seekers died in preschool or day care facilities in Israel. However in the last year and a half no such deaths have been registered.

The Tel Aviv municipality said the circumstances of the toddler’s death are not clear yet, so could not respond to this incident specifically. “The Labor and Social Affairs Ministry is responsible for frameworks for children aged 0 to 3,” the city said.

“However, in the absence of state frameworks for foreign community children in these ages, dozens of private day care centers are operated in apartments by people from the community. The municipality is aware of this, but isn’t authorized to enforce any procedure in these centers apart from giving voluntary assistance to the pirate day care centers,” the city said in its response.