Embassy quiet over missing Israeli children

By Marcus Dysch, September 12, 2008

The Israeli Embassy in London has again refused to disclose information about the wellbeing of two Israeli children who entered Britain unaccompanied.

In July, the JC reported on the case of a 12-year-old girl and her nine-year-old brother who were sent to the country alone by their Tel Aviv-based mother. In that and a subsequent report, the embassy would give no information.

The embassy's consul in London, Liora Givon, met the girl at a children's facility close to Heathrow Airport on July 28, but claims to have had no contact with her since a failed repatriation attempt on that date.

No-one from the embassy has been in contact with the boy, who is living with a family friend in Leeds.
Last Thursday, we visited the Colnbrook and Harmondsworth detention centres at Heathrow in an attempt to locate the girl, who has claimed asylum in Britain.

But she has now been taken into care by Hillingdon Council's social services department, and is thought to be living within the west London borough.

Embassy spokesman Lior Ben-Dor refused to answer specific questions about the siblings this week, including why the girl had not been visited again by Ms Givon and what arrangements were being made for their return to Israel.

He said: "Our answer is the same answer - speak to the social services in Tel Aviv. We are professionals. We have to follow our instructions. The embassy will not look very fine, but what can I do? "

Mr Ben-Dor said Ambassador Ron Prosor was aware of the case but would also not comment.
The UK Home Office, Leeds City Council and Hillingdon Council all refuse to comment on individual cases.

Varda Horesh, director of Tel Aviv's social services, admitted her department had realised the boy was missing from home last year but said it had not been possible to trace his whereabouts until news of his sister's disappearance broke in July.

"The mother would not give us the details or co-operate. We tried to convince her to tell us where he was. We asked a court to order her to give us the information, but the courts would not help," she said.

Ms Horesh, who admitted mistakes had been made by Israeli officials dealing with the case, said: "They are Israeli citizens and we believe they should be back in Israel."

But Elli Masterman, the mother's former lawyer, said that the woman did not want the children to return to Israel.

"She wants to come to England with her youngest son. She does not want them to come back to Israel. She would prefer to live with them in England but she has a problem leaving Israel with the smaller child because he does not have a passport," he said.


Last updated: 4:57pm, March 2 2009