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      Infants Killed in Jerusalem Poisoning Identified

      Siblings of two-year-old Avigayil and four-year-old Yael Gross fight for life. Experts: an accident waiting to happen.
      By Tova Dvorin
      First Publish: 1/22/2014, 10:50 PM

      Avigayil and Yael Gross, z"l
      Avigayil and Yael Gross, z"l
      Courtesy of the Gross family

      The identities of the children killed Wednesday in an apparent case of criminal negligence in Jerusalem have been revealed: Avigayil Gross, 2, and Yael Gross, 4. The two will be laid to rest Thursday at the Har HaMenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem. 

      Brothers Michael, 5, and Yitzhak, 7 are reportedly still fighting for their lives. Their situation has been downgraded to critical condition and they have been transferred to the Schneider Medical Center in Petah Tikva. 

      Wednesday's tragedy occurred after an exterminator left highly toxic materials - phosphine, the same agents used in Syria's chemical weapons - in the apartment's enclosed security room, also known as the "Mamad" or bomb shelter.

      Apparently, the security room's seal was less effective than the storage requirements for the chemical require, and the poison spread throughout the apartment over several days.

      Rescue officials at the scene were shocked to discover that the chemical's toxicity was the highest ever recorded in Israel; the exterminator has been arrested and an investigation has been launched.

      Hospital spokeswoman Riva Shaked stated Wednesday night that they have been connected to an ECMO machine, which reproduces the functions of the heart and lungs. There is no antidote for this particular poison, making oxygen and fluid treatments critical for their survival. 

      Medics rushed to the Gross family's Givat Mordehai apartment Wednesday, after an emergency call was made for Yael, who fell unconscious. 

      "When I went into the apartment I saw an unconscious 4-year-old girl lying on the floor in the room, not breathing and with no pulse," described Magen David Adom (MDA) medic Shmulik David. "We immediately started giving medical treatment and advanced resuscitation, as other MDA forces arrived."

      "In the adjacent room another member of the family called us, saying there were other children that felt unwell; we spread out and...found in the next room a 2-year-old baby girl in semi-consciousness, whose condition deteriorated quickly," adds David.

      Arutz Sheva spoke to expert Mooney Nehorai Wednesday night, who noted that the extermination industry is full of unqualified professionals. 

      "Phosphine tablets are distributed in balls that react to humidity in the air and release chemical gasses," Nehorai noted. "The tablets are meant to be used to eradicate termites from wood furniture, but it is forbidden to use them inside a home - only outside, or in a well-sealed room." 

      He stressed that it is important to check with extermination companies that each exterminator has a license. "Unfortunately, the EPA has been lax," he stated. "Many exterminators are fakers - they don't even have a license - some of them are just gardeners who buy pesticides." 

      Nehorai's comments reinforce earlier statements from Dr. Ovadiah Shemesh, Deputy Director of Sha'arei Tzedek hospital, who noted earlier today that the hospital has seen cases like this before - albeit not nearly as severe. According to Channel 2, 63 Israelis were hospitalized for phosphine toxicity between 2008-2012.