Netanya Murder 311.
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The mind resists contemplation. A father exploits the trust and vulnerability of
his three young children to kill them in their sleep. And he performs this
incomprehensibly evil act on the birthday of their mother, a woman he presumably
once loved enough to share the intimacy of building a family.
tends to look for a narrative, for a logical progression of events directed by
But sometimes the most obvious explanation is too
unfathomable, too unbearable. So the mind bolts, choosing instead to focus on
reasonable considerations in a futile attempt to quell an unbearable sense of
The knee-jerk reaction is to blame the underpaid and
understaffed welfare authorities. But they behaved in a reasonable way, basing
themselves on a psychiatric opinion issued upon the release of the father, Itai
Ben-Dror, from the Lev Hasharon Mental Health Center, which determined that he
did not pose a threat to his children.
And even if the father’s visits
had been monitored, along with those of over 2,000 families in which one of the
parents is suspected of potential violence, he might have still managed to kill
his children. In May 1999, Erez Tivoni doused his two children in petrol and set
them on fire after asking for “just two minutes” alone. He did this inside a
battered women’s shelter run by WIZO, after a rabbinical court granted him
limited visitation rights.
The next in line for blame are the
But while Ben-Dror had made half a dozen halfhearted
efforts at suicide and had attacked his former wife, he had never exhibited
violent behavior toward his children. The police, meanwhile, are convinced that
Ben-Dror is lucid and calculated. He carefully planned the killings of Omer, 10,
Roni, 8, and Or, 5, meticulously preparing the tranquilizers that he used to
drug them and the knives that he used to stab them.
schizophrenics, might be more able to plan in advance. But it is highly unlikely
that this deeply psychotic paranoia was not detected during one of Ben-Dror’s
Nor is psychiatry a pure science. Take the example
of B., who was convicted 11 years ago for setting fire to seven brothels in the
south Tel Aviv area, which resulted in the deaths of four prostitutes. The
psychiatrist consulted by the state prosecutor found B. to be sane, but B.’s
psychiatrist ruled that he was not.
Another psychiatrist appointed by the
state sided with the prosecutor, but inconsistencies in his testimony led to the
creation of a special committee of psychiatrists who ruled that B. was insane.
Nevertheless, the Tel Aviv District Court judge rejected the findings and
convicted B. The case was later overturned by the High Court. Now B. is back
home after a stint in Abarbanel Mental Health Center.
WE SEEK to place
blame because the truth is often much more difficult to accept – and the
in this context is that there are bona fide evil individuals like
wandering around among us, and sometimes we can do nothing to stop
It is healthy human nature to strive to prevent bad people from
carrying out their wicked designs. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
expression to this deep-seated desire at the opening of this week’s
meeting: “As the government we are called on to do our utmost to prevent
deeds,” he said.
But sometimes these deeds, no matter how much we would
like to, cannot be prevented.
One thing that can be done is to make sure
that Ben- Dror is not allowed to hide behind the claim of “insanity.” He
already playing the part of the lunatic, claiming “voices” told him to
But if the man was fit enough to be allowed full visitation
rights, he should be fit enough to be held responsible for his
Paradoxically, the more horrific the crime, the more likely the
perpetrator to claim insanity, cynically exploiting the public’s
fathom his inhuman deeds. Though the mind resists, we must gaze with
clarity on Ben-Dror for who he is. He is a cold-blooded killer who
locked away forever, and his former wife granted the minuscule
justice was dealt.