An 83-year-old Holocaust survivor was removed from her Migdal Ha’emek home in handcuffs on Tuesday to be forcibly hospitalized in a mental-health center.
An official for the Migdal Ha’emek Municipality told The Jerusalem Post that the elderly woman, who does not speak Hebrew and lives alone, had been to see her doctor who expressed concern that she exhibited suicidal thoughts.
The doctor contacted the district psychiatrist of the Health Ministry who issued a warrant for her hospitalization.
However, things took a turn for the worse when healthcare professionals showed up at the woman’s home and attempted to remove her. According to neighbors’ accounts, the woman began screaming and refused to accompany them, at which point they handcuffed her.
The concerned neighbors called the police, who arrived at the scene and intervened, removing the handcuffs and quietly escorting the woman out of her home.
A video of the incident released to Channel 2 depicted the elderly woman, barely able to walk, escorted by neighbors and police officers outside her home.
“I work in a hair salon across from the woman’s house. I, along with other neighbors, heard yelling and saw a commotion,” Meir Zagori told Channel 2 Online. “We heard horrible yelling, as though someone were being killed. We immediately ran in the direction of the house, heard the yells, and found the old woman handcuffed and screaming, as though they were about to kill her.
“We saw the woman and next to her two burly men who tried to take her, handcuffed, out of her home. We immediately called the police and demanded they remove the handcuffs. She was weeping,” he said.
The incident came to the attention of Migdal Ha’emek Mayor Eli Barda, who responded angrily to the incident.
“The picture of an elderly woman who is a Holocaust survivor in handcuffs breaks your heart and is not acceptable. We want her to return to her home,” he said in a statement.
The mayor also filed a complaint with the police and instructed the director of Social Services in the municipality, Momi Ben Simon, to follow up on the woman’s whereabouts and well-being, the municipality official said.
“Health Minister Yael German views the incident, as it has been described, with great severity,” the Health Ministry said in a statement released to the Post on Wednesday. “According to her instructions the ministry will immediately conduct an investigation into the case. And based on the findings, it will take the necessary steps,” the statement read.
MK Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid), chairwoman of the Lobby for Holocaust Survivors, also released a statement. “If the staff acted inappropriately, it is our obligation to take serious measures and harsh action against them,” she said in the statement.
Kariv said she had contacted German, who complied with her request for an “intensive examination” of the incident.
“It is our moral duty to ensure that there will not be one Holocaust survivor in Israel who is not able to live his life in the most appropriate and best way,” she said.