Scandal-hit Petah Tikva mental institution shut down

Scandal-hit Petah Tikva mental institution shut down

Neve Yaakov psychiatric hospital was raided by police in October amid allegations of long-term patient abuse

Illustrative photo of a psychiatric hospital. (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a psychiatric hospital. (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

The Neve Yaakov psychiatric hospital in Petah Tikva, which has been the focus of a high-profile abuse scandal, was officially closed for good on Sunday, the Health Ministry said in a Monday press release.

The hospital had a staff of 100 and housed 160 patients aged 20-70, many of whom were considered difficult cases. The center became the subject of a yearlong police investigation into long-term abuse of patients by staff members. The inquiry was conducted with the assistance of the ministries of health and welfare, after family and friends of patients brought their suspicions to the authorities.

The investigation came to a dramatic head in late October, when a police raid involving over 150 officers detained at least 70 staff members for questioning in connection with the allegations.

At the time, police emphasized that not all of those detained were suspected of committing acts of abuse and that many were simply being held for questioning, although several of the employees were formally arrested.

The Health Ministry said that the closure process “was carried out in coordination with the families [of patients]. Patients were transferred to other residential treatment centers.”

“This is a case of physical and sexual abuse, neglect and sub-par treatment,” Petah Tikva Police Chief Sigal Bar-Zvi told Ynet at the time of the raid. “There is a conspiracy of silence,” she added. “The investigation is difficult and complex.”

“We received complaints of physical abuse,” an unnamed police official told Maariv. “A portion of the inmates suffered severe burns, some injuries, and some light wounds. A portion of the staff performed the acts, but other staff-members knew and did nothing to prevent the abuse.”

Channel 2 News reported in early November that after the publication of the reports on Neve Yaakov and the subsequent police investigation, sanitation officials from the Petah Tikva Municipality arrived to inspect the hospital’s health standards. According to the report, they found pigeons and cats in the kitchen.

One police source said that the sanitation department inspection had diagnosed a “serious threat of poisoning as a result of criminal neglect.”

Asher Zeiger contributed to this report.

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