Police arrested a 33-year-old caregiver on Wednesday because the elderly woman in her care died several months ago from unnatural causes.
The caregiver is a native of the Philippines and had taken care of the 94-year-old woman for four years in Givatayim, a city bordering on Tel Aviv.
For years Filipinos have been working in Israel as assistants for senior citizens. They constitute the largest group of foreign workers in the Jewish state, estimated to be about 300,000 strong.
Filipino culture is known for stressing respect for the elderly, and the high wages earned in Israel compared to the average Filipino salary is also a draw.
Many Israelis see Filipino caregivers as kind-hearted angels willing to work minimum-wage jobs not comparable with the Israeli cost-of-living standard. But the deceased woman's family is calling for an investigation.
After becoming suspicious, the family installed a security camera in their elderly mother's room, reported Maariv, the Hebrew-language sister publication of The Jerusalem Post. They alleged that two days before her death, the caregiver taped over the camera lens. The family said despite the advanced age of the woman, medical reports indicated she did not die of natural causes and they suspect she was poisoned, Maariv reported. But the caregiver is said to have countered that she merely gave the woman her regularly prescribed medication.
The caregiver, immediately after the death of the elderly woman, quickly asked the family for her four years worth of severance pay. The family alleged that she was entangled in financial difficulty and saw the severance pay as a way out of debt.
Following the complaint, the police opened an investigation. The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court extended the detention of the caregiver until Sunday after consulting with her lawyer.
In January, police concluded a lengthy investigation of abuse in Israeli nursing homes, arresting six caregivers. The investigation followed a similar case of elder-abuse the previous year.