Responding to video footage released last week, Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) on Sunday promised to investigate nursing homes accused of abusing residents.

The footage showed nursing home staff members abusing elderly residents at the Neot Kipat Hazahav nursing home in Haifa.

Among other things, residents were tied to their wheelchairs, beaten, humiliated, threatened, punched, and shaken. Some residents were not bathed for several days, left in dirty diapers, or forced to sleep on mattresses which smelled of urine.

The male nurse who broke the story to a private detective detailed horrible instances of institutional abuse such as waking residents up at 2 a.m. in order to change their clothes and place them in wheelchairs ready for breakfast, just so the employees could leave sooner. Residents would be confined to their wheelchairs for hours on end until after breakfast.

Police arrested on Sunday five Neot Kipat Hazahav staff members, including the chief nurse, who were suspected of abusing residents. The five, who are residents of Haifa, Nazareth and Kiryat Yam, are being held under suspicion of abuse, assault and threatening behavior.

Litzman has also fired Neot Kipat Hazahav owner and manager Avi Ruderman and ordered him to appoint a medical professional to supervise the facility. No new residents will be accepted until further notice, and the facility may be shut down.

Looking to prevent future abuse cases, Litzman has ordered the installation of security cameras in residents' rooms, surprise inspection visits, and an examination of management protocols. He also said Health Ministry officials conducted surprise visits at over ten other nursing homes.

"I am shaken by what happened here," Litzman told Channel 2. "It is inhuman, I don’t even have the words. We can’t ignore this. I am talking about all of the homes for the elderly in the country."

"We have to act immediately to prevent these things.

"We need to be grateful for the report. It is clear that the Health Ministry is part of the problem."

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, "I was outraged to see these things, this abuse of the elderly. This goes against our Jewish values and the basic values of the State of Israel; therefore, I expect the Health Ministry and the law enforcement authorities to deal with the abusers to the fullest extent of the law and to ensure that these events do not recur."

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said, "The investigative report uncovered horrible and heartbreaking images. I personally promise and will see to it that the police bring everyone responsible for these crimes to swift justice. There is no crime as cruel as abusing a defenseless person."

Neot Kipat Hazahav on Sunday said in a statement Sunday, "The findings presented in the report were harsh and terrible. When we received the material on Thursday, we immediately filed a complaint with the police against the employees in question. Disciplinary action was also taken, including summoning them for a hearing.

"We do not intend to ignore this, which is why we've formed an inquiry team to ensure cases like this will not happen again in the future. In addition, we've asked the Health Ministry to conduct its own independent inquiry to ensure such cases do not repeat.

"As such, we received the Health Ministry's approval to install cameras throughout the nursing home, including in the rooms. We will begin installing cameras this week and set up a control room using the most advanced technology. As per the instructions of the Health Ministry, cameras will be installed in rooms only with the approval of the resident's family."

Neot Kipat Hazahav was rated by Health Ministry inspectors ten months ago as a "very good" facility.

Social-Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) is working to establish an inter-office team which will ensure senior citizens receive appropriate care. The team will examine the quality of care for senior citizens living in geriatric institutions, review complaints of improper care and formulate recommendations to submit to the government within 120 days for improving promoting and improving care in these institutions.

Gamliel issued a statement that said, "Violence, neglect and improper treatment of senior citizens in geriatric institutions is unacceptable and we must not let it go unnoticed. The perpetrators must be prosecuted and the sooner the better. As a government, it is our duty to prevent the recurrence of such cases."

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