The Magistrate's Court in Rishon Lezion on Thursday extended by another five days the detention of Nirit Shwid, 47, and Ruhama Sa'ad, 37, two kindergarten aides who are suspected of abusing toddlers aged six months to two and a half years old at a daycare center in the Kiryat HaOmanim neighborhood of Ramle.
Translated by Idan Zonshine.
The court later extended the detention of two permanent caregivers from the nursery at the same daycare center, Hani Tzadeshvili and Orly Sharoni Shragani, by five days, ruling that "the security camera videos cannot be interpreted differently. There is reasonable cause at a very high certainty for the claims against them. The additional investigative materials also support our suspicions."
"The intensity of the danger posed by the suspects is significant as we are dealing with a large number of cases. During the investigation, it became clear that a number of employees were involved."
The alleged abuse was revealed in recent days following the entry of a father of one of the kindergarten's students into the security camera code, causing a storm and hysteria and anger among the daycare children's parents.
Noa Harati, a mother of one of the toddlers at the daycare center, told Maariv that "we had no prior suspicions. The boy threw things around the house, got angry, got upset, shouted, and we attributed it to a rowdy boy just acting out.
"There were cases where we received calls in advance from the aides, from Ruhama and Nirit, saying 'Today, he fell in the kitchen, so maybe you will see a bump, and today he was hit by a toy that another child threw at him' and as a mother you do not suspect anything because your child is in kindergarten and things like that can happen naturally.
"Then, on Monday, in the WhatsApp group for the kindergarten, parents started demanding that everyone go over there to take the children out. We did not know yet. We hadn't really been exposed to anything that happened. My husband came to pick up the child and then Ruhama told him, ‘if I touched one hair from your child's head, let my children die.’
"Manny picked up the boy and waited for me at the entrance to the kindergarten. When I got there, the daycare center's principal came. I asked her, while shaking and crying, to explain to me what happened to my child? What's going on? And she answered me, saying 'I also don't know, this is my life enterprise that, collapsed I am just like you.' As soon as the kitchen door opened, Ruhama and Nirit stood there and said, 'Come on, friends, don't get out of proportion, everything's fine.'"
Did you believe them?
"Absolutely not. We went to the same dad who got the security videos. We watched two or three of them and the horror was unimaginable and unthinkable. We saw the kids sleeping while Nirit passed with a mop and hit them on the backs for no reason. I saw my child about to doze off on a chair, and Ruhama knocked back his head, took a spritzer with a substance that appears to be 'more than water,' we think it is a cleaning product of some sort, and sprayed it in his face. His legs shook and his face turned red from crying."
We saw in another video that a child is sleeping on a mattress, and he is just grabbed by the shoulders and thrown aside. My child was grabbed by one hand and one leg off from the mattress and thrown onto the chair. They'd pass by a child and send blows for no reason. They instituted a kind of terrible 'game' with the children, wherein they would throw packs of wipes on the heads of the children and child had to return the wipes to them."
What went on in your mind, as a mother, in those moments, watching the videos?
"The body shivers and everything explodes. My child is a year and eight months old. I sent my child wholeheartedly. Every day I would talk to them I would say how happy I am that they are on the team that educates my child, how 'I've won.' Every day I would come to pick up the child they would say 'what will we do without him next year?' Telling me how much they loved him. I trusted them with my eyes closed. Even every time I was suspicious, when the boy was crying or did not fall asleep at night, I would call them and I received plausible explanations which assured me that everything was fine."
I hear your anger.
"I'm angry, I'm hurt, my world is destroyed, my heart shattered, my child's life has been ruined. To the end I will not forgive them. I gave them all the trust and gave me back a child with scars, they just smashed us. I just glorified and praised them, and they spat in our faces."
Have you been exposed to details beyond the videos?
"Right now four of the staff are under arrest and it does not seem to us that the kindergarten principal did not know. We do not believe her and do not give in to her crocodile tears. It is not possible that these horrific acts were happening in every ward in the kindergarten, and she did not know. All the parents are shocked, and we are just living through a nightmare. Unable to look our children in the eye."
"It's a kindergarten that people in this neighborhood wait on lists for months to enter. Ruhama would even look after children at home during the summer vacation and during the coronavirus lockdown period, that's the level of trust we had, and she shattered everything."
You see the videos and it does not remind you of an affair from a few months ago?
"Obviously. Everything we were exposed to reminded us at first of the Carmel Mauda affair, but as we delve deeper into our story, unfortunately we become aware of a much more serious affair."
The lawyer who is representing the families, Adi Carmeli, said "these are offenses committed over many years, of bringing serious harm to helpless toddlers, not for nothing that the court was shocked by watching the videos, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, I have many more pieces of evidence that we intend to submit to the police."
Let no one be confused – the parents, and I as their representative, will not relet until the bond of silence is revealed and all the culprits are brought to justice.
Translated by Idan Zonshine.