Shock over new child murders

Israel has been gripped by the tragic details emerging from the investigation into the fate of three four-year-old children, allegedly murdered by their parents.

In the latest case, police arrived at a south Tel Aviv flat on Tuesday night after 31-year-old Regina Kruchkov called the police and said: "I killed my son." They found the lifeless body of Mikhail drowned in a tub of water.

In another case, Olga Borisov is suspected of drowning her son, Alon Yehuda, at a Bat-Yam beach last Thursday night. At the same time, the search for Rose Pizem, whose grandfather - and stepfather - Ronnie Ron told the police he had murdered her, has continued into its third week.

Despite the public debate, no one has put forward an effective solution to protecting children in danger. In Rose's case, the question is why no one checked up on her despite the fact that after arriving in Israel she had been in care for six months after being abused.

New evidence points to the fact that the child was suffering from significant trauma and that her mother, Mary, had been beaten by her partner and Rose's biological grandfather.

A Justice Ministry source told the JC: "We have a long list of questions that need answering, not least how the disappearance of a young child can go unnoticed for two months, but our first priority is to try and find the body." Mr Ron told investigators that he had dumped Rose's body in the Yarkon river in May after accidentally beating her to death. But intensive searches have so far yielded nothing and Mr Ron's inconsistencies have lead police to believe that he may be hiding her whereabouts in the hope that the lack of a body may help him in his murder trial.

Ms Borisov, who is in police custody, is believed to be suffering from mental illness, though a year ago the social services ruled that her child was in good care. But there are reports that two months ago Alon was hospitalised for a month after falling from a window while on a visit to family in Moscow. Despite the welfare authorities' suspicion that Ms Borisov threw her child from the window, nothing was done to protect the child.

Her husband, Ilan Yehuda, was also briefly arrested and questioned. Two years ago, he was charged with physically abusing her and given a suspended prison term. Despite this, lawyers acting for both parents have insisted that the two had a healthy relationship.

Ms Kruchkov, also in custody, is a single mother who contacted social services for day-care assistance two years ago so she could work. Social workers and neighbours maintained there had been no signs of abuse.

The media frenzy surrounding the three cases has caused Knesset members to propose laws that will mandate parenting courses and oblige day-care providers to notify the authorities when children do not turn up.

Dr Yitzhak Kadman, the head of the National Council for the Child, told the JC that "most of these proposals are impractical, since they seek to criminalise parents".

    Last updated: 12:13pm, September 4 2008