Israeli police swoop in on hunger striking mother outside minister’s home
Marianne Azizi writes:
As 9pm Israel time this evening 42 police officers turned up at a protest vigil outside a minister’s house and arrested a mother and a human rights defender.
Fanny has a five-year-old son, a nice apartment and everything a child could want. Her son is a normal toddler – happy, playful and at times mischievous.
However, last week one of his teachers reported to social services that the child had misbehaved at school. The social workers came to the child’s home and took him away.
I visited the welfare office in the town of Lod and heard a recording of the social workers saying they had no idea what was happening to the boy at his home. In other words, nothing had happened there that caused them to take him away.
Every parent in the world should be outraged by this. The idea of being afraid to leave your child in school for fear of the child never returning is a nightmare no one should have to live with.
Fanny was distraught, and together with her eldest son, aged 24, she begged for her youngest’s return. There was no mercy. She heard from her young son that the social workers had tried to force him to take pills in his food, or by adding powder to his drink to medicate him.
In Israel the kids are cherrypicked for separation from their parents. But this particular mother decided to take matters into her own hands. Five days ago she started to camp outside the home of Haim Katz, Israel’s welfare minister (pictured above). This video shows how she has been pleading every day for the return of her son. The video is presented by Moti Leybel, the human rights activist who was arrested with Fanny this evening.
Fanny was told that “eventually” her son would come back. Many parents who have had their children snatched know the word “eventually” can mean weeks, months, years or never.
As many people joined her in the protest, Fanny learned that her son didn’t want to eat so she has began a hunger strike of her own. People are providing her with support and more are turning up to share in her protest.
Child snatching by social services is becoming a worldwide phenomena, as this example from the UK shows. However, the problem in Israel is that people are so afraid of the welfare authorities, and the police are afraid of putting their heads above the parapet.
Israelis have reason to be afraid, because their snatched children could end up in private institutions with no prospect of returning home. Instances of this in Israel are five times higher than in Illinois with half the population. In other words, Israel take 10 times the number of children from Israeli parents as Illinois per capita despite having less than half the social problems of Chicago
If every child who had played up at school was taken from its parents, it is doubtful there would be many families left intact. Israel is hidden from the world in terms of public awareness of the social injustices.
How many children will have to lose loving parents before eyes are opened? I have spent two months in Israel and watched countless children being removed from families, children who have escaped emergency centres and, sadly, also suicides of parents and children who cannot tolerate such an existence. But with 36 per cent poverty, few people have time for politics as they struggle to keep their families together.