New details regarding the case of the five-year-old girl found tied and bound in her home's bathroom have come out, Maariv reported.
After police arrived at the family's fourth-floor apartment on Lod's Hagdud Ha'ivri Street, they found the girl alone in the house, bound hand and foot with an especially thick rope tied around her neck, lying in filth in the family's shower, and covered in blood and bruises.
Magen David Adom (MDA) was called to the scene, and transferred her to the hospital. Her parents, who had gone with the girl's younger siblings to the beach for several hours, were arrested and taken for interrogation.
On Tuesday, the parents' arrest was extended by six days.
A source familiar with the case told Maariv: "Just before the police officers broke into the apartment out of concern for the girl's welfare, the owners arrived - the girl's parents with three additional children. At the request of the police, they opened the door of the apartment and allowed the officers to enter."
"The cries led the officers to the shower room, where they discovered a frightening and horrific scene: The girl was bound hand and foot and an especially thick rope was wrapped around her neck in what's called a banana tie. She was lying on the floor in a puddle of feces, urine, and water, with blood and bruises on her body. The officers called MDA staff to the scene, but not before one of the officers went to the kitchen and used a knife to free the girl from her bonds.
The officers called Welfare staff to the apartment so that they could take care of the other children at this stage in the investigation. Both parents were arrested at the scene and taken for interrogation, during which they denied any connection to the girl's ties and bonds.
Attorneys Hai Uzan and Shorki Abu Tabik, who represent the girl's parents, claim: "Our clients deny the suspicions against them. They left the girl at home after she fell asleep and took the other three children to the beach for a few hours. According to them, they did not tie or bind the girl and it could be that someone else was at the scene and committed the act."
The suspects' lawyers noted that the parents came home after receiving a phone call from a neighbor, who claimed to hear crying from their home.
Judge Zechariya Yamin said: "This is a horrific case. It is incomprehensible that these findings occurred in the time that elapsed between when the parents left the house and when they returned. These are signs of an ongoing event. It's simply horrifying."
Police found that the girl is not registered anywhere, and was born in an area occupied by the Palestinian Authority. At some point, she entered Israel. Her mother is also in Israel illegally, and a request was made to reunite the family.
Maariv spoke with Chava Levi, a head Welfare Ministry social worker, about how the case could have been overlooked and what the protocol usually is.
"We've never had a case like this, but unfortunately other cases of neglect and abuse reach us all the time," Levi told Maariv. "In the past, we've had very difficult cases, but each of them had different characteristics. This isn't a common phenomenon. Usually we intervene in the earlier stages."
"Welfare is learning from this situation," she said, adding that "neighbors, educational staff, professionals - it's enough for one person to alert us to a problem. In such a case we conduct an examination, which gives us a fuller picture. When we put the information together, sometimes we discover a frightening picture and sometimes it's not as bad as it seemed."
At that point, the Welfare Ministry staff decide whether to report the case to the police or to request an exemption from the Justice Ministry. Such exemptions allow Welfare staff not to inform the police of the case, effectively leaving the reigns in their own hands.
"In some cases there is a legal requirement to report, such as cases of neglect or abuse of any type, and sometimes the families are hurting and willing to fix things, and a criminal process is not the best way to protect the family unit. There are cases where things are very difficult and the child cannot remain at home, so we place the child with safe family or in a safe center to protect him, since until then no one has been able to protect him.
"In any case where there is suspicion or worry or you hear something - we can't come in so late. We're a small country where one of the values is that we are all responsible for each other. It's very important to turn to social services or to the Welfare Ministry's hotline, 118."