2 Nov 2010

Jerusalem riots over suspected child abuse case continue

Monsters and Critics.com July 16, 2009

Jerusalem - Members of Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community attacked government ministries and police officers in Jerusalem on Thursday, the third day of violent protests against the arrest of one of their community suspected of starving her child.

By mid-afternoon, at least 10 people had been lightly injured in the riots, according to reports.

Demonstrators hurled rocks at the Education Ministry, pelted police with stones, overturned garbage dumpsters, damaged road signs, and forced police to evacuate welfare workers from an office in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood.

Some 15 people also protested outside the Jerusalem hospital where the child at the centre of the affair is being treated.

Jerusalem municipal officials estimated the damage caused by the three days of rioting as close to 200,000 Israeli shekels (around 51,000 dollars).

Mayor Nir Barkat has ordered the municipality to suspend all services to two ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods, citing fears for the safety of municipality employees.

The move was condemned by ultra-Orthodox city leaders as collective punishment on all ultra-Orthodox living in those neighbourhoods, including those not involved in the rioting.

The rioting broke out in the city's religious neighbourhoods after authorities announced the woman's arrest on Tuesday. Members of the city's ultra-Orthodox community, to which the woman belongs, protested her detention by setting fire to garbage containers and throwing stones.

The demonstrations continued unabated Wednesday and even spread to the nearby city of Beit Shemesh, which also houses a significant ultra-Orthodox population.

Police said Thursday morning that 26 rioters had been arrested overnight.

Doctors allege the ultra-Orthodox woman, in her 30s, who is pregnant and a mother of four other children, suffers from Muenchhausen Syndrome by Proxy, a disorder whereby a person deliberately causes or fakes the illness of someone, usually to get the attention of doctors.

The family have denied the accusation of child abuse and their spokesman said Thursday that the child was suffering from cancer, and that his skeletal appearance was the effect of chemotherapy treatments.

Doctors, however, rejected this claim, saying the child's health has improved and he has begun to put on weight since he was taken into care.

Yair Birenbaum, deputy director of the hospital in which the boy is being treated, told Israel Radio Thursday afternoon that medical team had saved the toddler's life. He said he believed the boy could be discharged in a few weeks.

The 3-year-old, whose weight had dropped to some seven kilograms, about half the average for boys his age, had been in and out of hospital for the past 18 months.

Doctors and social workers began suspecting Muenchausen Syndrome when a series of medical checks found nothing wrong.

Police on Thursday rejected a request that the woman be released into house arrest, saying that to do so could place her four other children in danger.

But the woman's lawyer charged that she is not receiving the medical care she needs.

'A pregnant woman in her fifth month with a history of four miscarriages who feels pain in her womb and asks for medical care and doesn't get it and who is constantly being interrogated - I think, in this situation, this could be bad for her health,' attorney David Halevy told Israel Radio.

The ultra-Orthodox rioting in Jerusalem follows weeks of violent tension sparked by the city's decision to open a municipal parking lot on Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath, when Jews are forbidden by religious law from doing any work, conducting commercial transactions, and even driving.

Even though the city announced the parking lot would not charge money, and would be operated on Saturday's by a non-Jew, the ultra- Orthodox were were not appeased, and rioting broke out over successive weekends.

This article was found at: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/middleeast/news/article_1490118.php/Jerusalem_riots_over_suspected_child_abuse_case_continues__Roundup_

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