News of the bizarre case of a 14-year-old boy who had apparently rarely set foot outside his Hadera apartment left many baffled on Thursday, and the story, as well as a sadly familiar incident involving the death of a toddler forgotten in a car, prompts the country’s Hebrew-language newspapers to focus Friday on the prevalence of child abuse and neglect throughout Israel.
“A 14-year-old, secluded from the world,” reads Yedioth Aharonoth’s headline, referring to the youth in Hadera. “This is one of the worst cases of neglect in the state’s history,” the paper determines, though the report later adds that the parents are not suspected of abusing their child. “He was sickly and we wanted to protect him,” Yedioth reporter Eitan Glickman quotes the parents as saying.
The boy was discovered Thursday after municipal workers followed up on a complaint by neighbors of a stench that was permeating the building. Workers called in the police, suspecting a body was inside. When officers broke in they found the boy and his family, living in a cluttered and filthy apartment.
“In between piles of garbage, without a drop of light, never meeting a person — that is how, allegedly, a youngster from Hadera lived for years,” is how Israel Hayom describes the outlandish case in its headline.
The daily’s contributor Hagit Ron-Rabinowitz somberly considers whether the “teenager can ever smile again,” and urges authorities and the public to treat the case as a wake-up call which should push them to take action and prevent the possibility of other children ever facing similar conditions.
“I want to hope that the lesson will be learned, and if there is a chance that a boy or girl is living in our country in darkness, their neighbors must open their eyes and make sure to stubbornly report to whomever it is necessary to report to,” writes Ron-Rabinowitz.
“And I want to believe that the physical and psychological rehabilitation process will succeed [for the boy], and that from now on he will see the light of day, will eat healthy and nourishing food, will breathe fresh air, will wear clothing that fits him, will study and broaden his horizons, and will smile.”
Meanwhile, Yedioth reports on a one-year-old baby girl who died on Thursday after being left for several hours in an overheated car in the Avnei Hefetz settlement, in the northern West Bank. “Little Shaked was forgotten in the backseat,” reads the paper’s headlines. Police said that the baby’s mother was supposed to take her daughter to nursery but forgot the toddler in the car. For reasons still unclear, she left the premises in a different vehicle. After about five hours, the woman returned to the original vehicle to find her daughter unconscious.
According to the Beterem organization for child safety, 19 babies and children have died after being left in a vehicle since 2008, including seven in the last year alone.
In Haaretz, the front page article deals with the upcoming visit of US President Donald Trump to the Jewish state, particularly with regard to the American leader’s apparent demands from the Israeli government. According to Haaretz reporters Barak Ravid and Amor Tibon, incoming US ambassador to Israel David Friedman has urged the Israeli leadership to “cooperate” with Trump, who, White House sources say, is set to present a plan described as a “great opportunity to Israel.” Friedman, Haaretz reports, has “strongly recommended” that Israeli officials not enter into a confrontation with Trump and allow the US president to realize his vision for the Middle East.
While it is not clear if Trump will use his trip to the region to unveil specific plans concerning peace talks, the timing of the visit — on the eve of Jerusalem Day, when Israel will celebrate 50 years since capturing the east of the city during the 1967 Six Day War — has sparked speculation that he might use the trip to make a major announcement regarding the city.
Trump is set to arrive in Israel on May 22 for a one-day visit along with his wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, the latter two of whom also serve as his advisers.
During his trip to Israel, Trump will stay at Jerusalem’s ritzy King David Hotel, with all of its 233 rooms reserved for his entourage. Hotels officials said that security teams insisted that the hotel be completely cleared of guests a day before his arrival and that the area would become a virtual fortress.
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