Israeli mother who starved child avoids prison

The strictly Orthodox woman from Jerusalem who was charged with starving her three-year-old son was convicted of intentionally harming her child in a plea bargain with the prosecution on Monday.

According to the terms of the plea bargain, the mother will not serve any prison time but will spend the next three years under house arrest, following which she will be sentenced by the court.

The mother, known only as M for legal reasons, will be allowed to live with her youngest son who was born earlier this year. The "starved" child, H, will live for the next nine months with his uncle and the social services will decide in nine months' time whether he can be turned over to the father's custody.

The father will also have custody of the couple's older children and will live separately from M. She will be allowed to see her children only under the supervision of the social services for the next 18 months and then they will consider allowing her to spend a few hours each day in the same house with the children.

It is not yet clear when the father and the older children, who are living in London, will return to Israel. The father's parents live in Stamford Hill.

M was accused of starving and harming her child for a year and a half while explaining his condition to doctors by claiming he had various illnesses. Her arrest last year caused widespread rioting by the members of the Chasidic group to which the family belongs.

Despite criticism from child welfare campaigners, Tal Wiseman from the Jerusalem District Prosecutor's office said that "the only consideration… was the children's safety and this is the best arrangement for ensuring it".

    Last updated: 2:48pm, May 21 2010