netanya murder graves 311.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
The Ramle Magistrate’s Court on Sunday extended by 10 days the remand of a
Netanya man arrested for allegedly murdering his three young children, a crime
that left the presiding judge shocked and distraught.
After reading the
police remand extension request regarding Itai Ben-Dror, 38, Judge Liora Frankel
referred to the crime as “a disturbing and extremely painful
Netanya man suspected of brutally murdering his 3 children
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The mind cannot fathom such an act. When I read the content of
the [police] investigation, my heart cries out.”
Frankel ordered police
to arrange for Ben-Dror to undergo a psychiatric exam by Tuesday to determine
whether he is fit to stand trial.
Ben-Dror was arrested at his Netanya
home on Saturday morning after rescue personnel found his children – Omer, 10;
Roni, 8; and Or, 5 – stabbed to death underneath a blanket on his blood-soaked
mattress. Ben- Dror was found nearby with his wrists slit from a botched suicide
Police first questioned Ben- Dror on Saturday at his bedside in
the city’s Laniado Hospital. He confessed to stabbing his children, a police
The investigation is still in its initial phase as forensics
officers review evidence collected from the scene and detectives pore over
letters written by the suspect.
On Sunday, Ben-Dror was led into court by
four officers from the YAMAR special investigative unit. Ben-Dror covered his
face and kept his head down for nearly the entire hearing, and refused to answer
questions from the press. He had blood on his left hand and his wrists were
wrapped in bandages.
Defense attorney Ran Alon made a case for insanity
at the time of the murders, drawing on Ben-Dror’s discharge a month and a half
ago from a psychiatric hospital and six recent suicide attempts. Alon said his
client had said that voices told him to kill his children and advised him on how
to carry out the murders. The attorney said the very nature of the crime
indicated that the suspect was probably not sane.
“I think the
circumstances demand a psychiatric examination, and I’m shocked that the
investigative team did not agree,” he said. “We’re talking about a man who went
through several different psychiatric hospitalizations, five or six over the
past two years alone, the last of which was for five months, and he was with a psychiatrist just two weeks ago and said he didn’t
feel well and had troubling thoughts. I think the action itself cries out to the
heavens that this man is in need of a psychiatric examination.”
representative of the police investigative team repeatedly dismissed Alon’s
calls for his client to be given a psychiatric examination, saying that should
wait until at least after an indictment.
When asked if Ben-Dror had
expressed remorse, Alon said that from what he understood, “he believes that
because of this action they [the children] are in a better world and are waiting
for him there.”
At the beginning of Sunday’s hearing, Alon described his
client’s version of events “After he stabbed the children, he carried them to
his bed. Afterward, he drank some whiskey, swallowed some pills, slit his
wrists, and went to sleep with his [dead] children, whom he hugged and kissed
all through the night,” the lawyer said.
Also on Sunday, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu issuing a statement: “Yesterday, we were witness to a
act, which I am convinced the entire country is in mourning over and is
at. As the government, we are called on to do our utmost to prevent such
Netanyahu said Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog
had set up an inquiry that will include officials from his ministry, as
mental health, public security and legal officials.
“I am certain that I
speak for us all, and for the entire country, when I express our deepest
and our solidarity with the family over this awful tragedy,” the prime
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry declined to answer questions about
Ben-Dror’s earlier diagnosis at Lev Hasharon Mental Health Center, where
been found “not to pose a threat” to his children.
head Dr. Gadi Lubin said he was unable to comment on the matter, which
addressed by the court after consultations with psychiatric
In the meantime, Health Ministry director-general Dr. Ronni
Gamzu asked Welfare and Social Services Ministry director- general
Itzkovitz to add Lubin, along with other relevant representatives, to
Initial shock at the crime was followed by
widespread outrage directed toward the social services. Authorities had
permitted Ben-Dror to exercise unsupervised visitation rights with his
despite his history of psychiatric hospitalizations, suicide attempts
threats against his ex-wife and the mother of his children, Lilach
had tried to obtain a restraining order against him.
“I have nothing left
to live for. My life has been stopped at the age of 38,” Shem-Tov told
Sunday, recounting the events of the recent months.
"Last July he
attacked me and said that the weeds in my house must be removed and laid
grave. Then there was another incident with a knife, which he tried to
into my home. I reported it to the authorities, and he promised not to
anything, neither to me nor to the children.
“The authorities said he was
back on track, that the children loved him and he loved them, and that I
let him have them. They told me, ‘Don’t engage in a war in front of the
children; leave the war for the court.’” “I am tormented as it is. I
abased as well. I trusted the authorities and the professionals; they
told me he
was okay. I wouldn’t have helped him murder them.
I thought he loved
Yaakov Lappin, Judy Siegel and
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to