Police suspect mom sold her kids to UK buyers

Woman who sent her children, aged 9 and 12, to UK feared welfare services would take them away.

london 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
london 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Police suspect a 38-year-old woman from Tel Aviv may have sold two of her children to individuals in the UK, after receiving word from the Foreign Ministry of a 12-year-old Israeli girl who landed in London by herself a month ago. The mother's lawyer claimed in court Wednesday that she was afraid that the social welfare services would take her children away from her due to their decision that she is incompetent to raise them. For the past month the girl was in the custody of British immigration police, which contacted the Israeli embassy over the incident. Supt. Avi Rosh of Tel Aviv's Shunot police station told The Jerusalem Post that the British immigration police submitted an order Wednesday to send the girl to a foster family until it's decided what to do with her next. The girl's nine-year-old brother, who traveled to Britain alone a year ago, has been located by police in Leeds, in the north of England. "The woman in Leeds claims to be the boy's guardian," Rosh said. "We have to question her, and see how she came to have custody of the boy." He said police suspected the children had been sold. "To send a child alone to a foreign country and then another child, and not to take an interest in their welfare is so unnatural to a parent. This raises many questions, especially since the mother does not want the children back," he said. Rosh added that the mother claimed in her investigation that she had sent her children abroad to her friend's house out of fear that the social welfare services would take them away from her. She added that she could not take care of them because of their behavioral problems. "The mother was found incompetent by the social welfare services and her house was found neglected and inappropriate for raising children," Rosh added. The mother's arrest was extended Wednesday by one day in Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court and she is set to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Her former husband, who was granted custody of the couple's four-year-old son following the police investigation, told the police he was led to believe the children had gone on holiday. "We began this investigation Tuesday, when we were contacted by the Foreign Ministry," Rosh said. "We called the mother in for questioning and arrested her for neglect," he added. Neil Simon, a Tel Aviv lawyer representing the woman, confirmed that she had indeed sent her two children to live in Britain. Her son, he said, had gone to live with family members there more than a year ago and the daughter had flown over a month ago. The lawyer said that the woman, who admitted to sending them abroad so as to prevent the Social Welfare services in Israel from taking them away, was very surprised to learn that her daughter had been taken in by Britain's immigration police upon arrival in London. The Tel Aviv Municipality's response to the situation supported the mother's version of events. The UK Home Office said it did not comment on individuals' cases and added that "in any instance where an unaccompanied child enters the UK, they are treated as asylum-seekers, even though they clearly were not. The children were never held in detention but would have been handed over to social services." Jonny Paul contributed to this report from London