Court Orders Alleged Child-abusing Mother Released to House Arrest

The Beit Shemesh woman is accused of 25 counts of aggravated assault on six of her 12 children.

The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday ordered the release to house arrest of a Beit Shemesh woman who is charged with at least 25 counts of aggravated assault on six of her 12 children.

The court ordered that the woman be moved to a hiding place under strict conditions and heavy supervision. However, the order had not yet been carried out, to allow the prosecution time to appeal the Supreme Court. Indeed, the prosecution appealed the decision and the Supreme Court will deliberate on the case Friday morning.

On April 1, an indictment was submitted to the Jerusalem court, accusing the mother of beating her children with a belt, a stick and an electric wire, of tying one of them, stepping on another's feet and causing them serious injuries.

The indictment further states that the mother cut her daughters' hair as punishment and proceeded to burn out a match on one of her children's chest. She is suspected of waking her children by splashing cold water at them, and of often locking them outside their home.

The police investigation began in early February after neighbors reported hearing a child crying for help and seeing objects being thrown at him. The responding officers were forced to wait outside the apartment for two hours because the mother refused to let them in. Only rabbinical intervention enabled the entry of the police.

The officers who entered found a young boy, evidently mentally or emotionally disabled, bearing signs of physical abuse and covered in his own feces.

The suspect then reported to her arraignment hearing wearing clothing that concealed her entire body, including her face. Her attorney told the judge that because her client's religious beliefs precluded her from responding directly to a male judge, any exchange would be mediated via the attorney.

This case has shocked Israelis since it first came to light, and was part of a series of severe child abuse cases that had been recently reported, including the arrest on Wednesday of a couple from northern Israel for abusing their 9-year-old son.