State prosecutors on Thursday charged a Palestinian man with negligence for the death of his girlfriend’s baby in Ashkelon last month.
Prosecutors initially suspected 21-year-old Ziad Obeid of murder in the death of the 11-month-old child after an autopsy revealed a head injury.
But prosecutors dropped the charge to negligent homicide after determining that he did not abuse the infant.
“While tasked with the responsibility for the health and well-being of the deceased, Obeid violated his duties, failed to properly monitor the deceased, which caused her death,” the charge sheet said.
According to the indictment, Obeid and the baby’s mother, 22, were living together in the southern coastal city and were raising her daughter. Obeid is from the West Bank and was living in Ashkelon without a permit from Israel.
Last month, Obeid’s girlfriend went out with some friends and left him alone with the baby. Several hours later, the child was rushed to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where she died two days later.
According to reports, police initially suspected that he was resentful that he had to babysit, and injured the infant to get back at his girlfriend.
But medical professionals ruled out abuse, and while it wasn’t clear how the infant got hurt, the indictment says it was likely from a fall.
Eyewitnesses said that Obeid immediately notified neighbors the girl was injured and he stayed at her side until the ambulance arrived.
Afterwards, Obeid disappeared and he was picked up en route to the West Bank. His disappearance strengthened suspicions that he attacked the infant in anger, but his lawyer told the court that he took off because he panicked about not having a permit to live in Israel.
“He was taking care of the girl for the last five months — he fed and cared for her — there’s no way he murdered her,” members of Obeid’s family told Hebrew-language media outlets on Thursday. “He didn’t even realize that she was injured by that fall.”
“He’s a good guy, not a killer, he loved that little girl like she was his own,” the family members added.