The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday extended the remand of three kindergarten attendants who were arrested the day before on suspicion of abusing infants under their care in a West Bank settlement.
The three childcare workers are to be held in custody for another three days and then released to house arrest for an additional four days, since the court found evidence that “establishes a reasonable suspicion.”
Abuse at kindergartens has gained public attention amid a number of recent of high-profile cases.
The attendants from a daycare center in the West Bank settlement of Tekoa are suspected of roughly handling children, including shaking them and holding the heads of children down on beds.
During the hearing, police revealed that complaints were filed three months ago by another attendant at the Tekoa daycare center, and officers have been monitoring the situation ever since.
Two of the suspects were arrested last week and then released. But following developments on Friday, when another attendant apparently contacted police, all three were arrested on Sunday.
The husband of one of the detained said the claims of abuse were just revenge by two attendants who were fired from the center.
“This is all about shaming and two attendants who were fired from the daycare and are looking for revenge against the center and the other attendants are behind this,” the husband told media before the hearing.
Defense attorney David Halevi, representing one of the attendants, pointed out to the court that police were apparently unmoved by the allegations, since they waited three months before acting.
Police summoned an attendant at the center and some of the parents of children to give testimony Monday, Channel 12 TV news reported.
The Gush Etzion Regional Council, which administers the West Bank settlement where the kindergarten is located, said in a statement: “After clarification of the incident with the management of the day center in Tekoa, it is a matter of two groups of attendants who last week had an argument, one of the attendants threatened to go to the police, and that is what she did.”
On Sunday, in a separate case, a daycare center attendant was sentenced to 17 years in prison for smothering to death an 18-month-old girl, who was under her care, last year.
In another recent incident of daycare abuse, an attendant from a center in Rosh Ha’ayin was arrested in June and charged with physically abusing nearly a dozen young children as young as 3 months old. Days later, arsonists set her home on fire.
A bill requiring all childcare centers and nurseries to have security cameras had been debated and delayed for years before finally being passed by the Knesset in December last year. According to the new law, from September 2020 all daycare centers, nurseries, and rehabilitation centers will need to install security cameras, unless 70 percent of the parents object.
All activities inside the centers and the yards outside will be recorded, without sound, on closed-circuit systems. The footage will only be accessed by authorities if there is a suspicion that an offense has been committed. Improper distribution of images will carry a sentence of up to six months in prison.