State prosecutors filed an indictment at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, charging a Hod Hasharon man for stabbing his baby daughter to death and attempting to kill his wife and other daughter.
Barak Ben-Ami, 34, was charged with one count of aggravated murder and two counts of attempted murder. The March rampage was set off, according to the indictment, by an “inane argument” he had with his wife after which the defendant made the decision to kill her, their toddler and their baby daughter before taking his own life as well.
The defendant’s wife, A., was sitting on the couch holding their youngest daughter when the suspect punched her in the face, shoved her and began strangling her as she sought to fend him off, the rap sheet said.
Immediately afterward, the defendant went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and stabbed A. in her neck. The woman fell to the ground while the baby remained lying on the couch. Ben-Ami strangled and stabbed his wife repeatedly in the neck and chest before stabbing his 10-month-old baby in the neck and chest, continuing on to his three-year-old daughter and doing the same, according to the indictment.
At some point, A. managed to get up and tried to run out of the apartment to call for help. But Ben-Ami caught her and stabbed her again. Nevertheless, she made it out to the yard and began shouting, the indictment said. The defendant followed A. grabbed her by the hair and stabbed her again in the stomach causing the woman to fall to the ground. The suspect then tried to drag her by the leg back into the apartment, but gave up when people started to arrive at the scene, the indictment said.
Ben-Ami then returned to the apartment where he choked his three-year-old and made several superficial wounds to his own neck in an attempt to take his own life with another knife.
The defendant finally ceased his rampage when other people arrived at the apartment, but his infant daughter did not survive the attack. His wife and daughter were hospitalized in serious condition for seven and ten days, respectively.
In her request for remand, Central District Attorney’s Office prosecutor Liat Peleg wrote, “The defendants violent, aggressive and brutal acts, during which he did not hesitate before attacking and stabbing his daughters and wife many times, all over an inane argument, demonstrate his danger to public safety.”
A police representative told the court last month that Ben-Ami had confessed to the crime shortly after his arrest, admitting it had been due to an argument with his wife.
Ben-Ami’s lawyer has disputed the motive argument, saying that the couple had made plans to continue building a future together. The attorney, Ron Alon, said his client had told him, “My eyes went black. I went crazy. I don’t know what happened to me.”
The couple had not discussed divorce, and did not have any financial difficulties, police said. Also, there were no indications of previous domestic violence, according to testimony from the couple’s families. Police rejected Ben-Ami’s claims of having gone suddenly berserk and said at the hearing that they found a motive for the assault, but did not specify what it was.
Ben-Ami had initially refused legal counsel before his investigation and claimed to police that he was mentally disturbed.
But the prosecution revealed during the hearing that the psychiatrist who examined Ben-Ami found him fit to stand trial.
Last October, the Welfare Ministry issued a report on partner violence in 2018 that found a surge in the number of reported cases of domestic abuse. According to the ministry, the number of women calling its abuse hotline rose 160 percent between 2014 and 2018, and more than 6,000 victims of domestic violence received treatment last year. In 2018, 1,219 women called the hotline to report spousal abuse.