Police bring in family for questioning in AKIM hostel shooting

Authorities question family of 4 who live near residence for intellectually disabled adults in Northern Tel Aviv suburb where incident occurred.

February 19, 2014 17:07
2 minute read.

Intellectually disabled people give shiatsu massages to passersby in Ramat Gan last week as part of "Akim in the Square" informational campaign. (photo credit: COURTESY OF AKIM)

A couple and their two teenage children were brought in to the north Tel Aviv police station for questioning on Wednesday regarding the shooting at an AKIM residence for adults in Tel Aviv.

Police questioned the family, who lives near the hostel, about its involvement in Monday’s incident. There is no conclusive evidence and investigators will continue to pursue all avenues, the police said.

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Sigal Peretz-Yahalomi, CEO of AKIM – The National Association for the Habilitation of the Intellectually Disabled, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday the foursome seemed like a “normal family” and that she did not know if they were the only suspects.

Peretz-Yahalomi revealed that, in the month leading up to the shooting incident, there were other instances of harassment.

“Prior to this event our lock was sabotaged, oil was poured on the pathway leading to the house and over the door, and our driveway was blocked by cars on a few occasions. We decided to keep this information to ourselves and not release it to the media in order to maintain good relations with our neighbors.”

Peretz-Yahalomi added that the police were aware of the previous incidents and were involved every step of the way.

The shooting was an “extreme escalation,” she said.

The outpouring of support since the attack has been incredible, Peretz-Yahalomi said. On Wednesday, youth organizations including Bnei Akiva, schoolchildren and their parents held a rally in front of the hostel in a show of support. Hano’ar Ha’oved Vehalomed, the Noar Oved youth movement, passed out informational fliers in the Tel Aviv neighborhood with AKIM’s motto, “An inclusive community is a strong community.”

Neighbors from the Tzahala community and beyond also visited the residence in the past days to show solidarity.

“The public discussion that has ensued because of this event, it is unfortunate that it came about because of this negative event, but nevertheless it is good that it has started a discussion about intellectually disabled people and hopefully this will help to raise awareness and break disinformation,” said Peretz-Yahalomi.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai expressed support on Tuesday, saying, “Throughout my tenure as mayor of Tel Aviv I have supported the establishment of institutions and services for disabled people all over the city, including next to my home, despite the objections of a minority that is intolerant of others.

“We will not be deterred by violence and we will continue to provide the best services, wherever required, for those who need our help. I hope the Israel Police will locate those responsible for this act and bring them to justice,” he said.

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