After neighbors reported a stench coming from a building in the northern city of Hadera, police broke in expecting to find a body. Instead, they found a 14-year-old boy who had apparently never left the apartment, except when he was in an outdoor cage built by his father.
The youth was taken to Hillel Yaffe Medical Center for a health check and his parents, both in their 50s, were arrested, police said.
He was discovered Thursday after municipal workers followed up a complaint by neighbors of a stench that was permeating the building. The workers, arriving at the apartment, found a locked door that went unanswered and, suspecting a body was inside, called the police.
Police were not able to break down the door. When one officer managed to get inside the premises through a window, he was attacked by the parents. After they were subdued, officers found the boy.
Pictures from inside his living area showed a cramped space, lined with bicycles, bags of clothes and shoes. It was not immediately evident where he slept.
The kitchen of the apartment was overflowing with boxes and what looked like bags of trash.
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Outside the apartment was a makeshift cage that appeared to be constructed of old twisted laundry drying racks and covered in sheets or tarps, where the boy was sometimes kept.
Initial checks revealed that the teenager was not registered in any education system. The family was reportedly not known to welfare services.
According to Ynet, the family moved to Hadera in 2009 with some of the neighbors unaware they had a child with them.
The teen, according to reports, does not speak Hebrew and it was not clear if he speaks at all.
“The boy is sick, we are looking out for him, everything we did was done so that he would not go outside and contract diseases,” the mother said, according to Ynet, adding that the Israeli-born teenager was, at some point in his life, treated by doctors.
A lawyer for the mother said she was claiming that the parents acted out of concern for the child, who has health problems but was receiving treatment.
“The mother is upset… and is worried about her son,” the lawyer said.
MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, who chairs the Knesset Committee for Children’s Rights, cast blame on the “surrounding community.”
The case, she said according to Channel 10, “illustrates the need for a surrounding community and for all of us as a society to be vigilant and pay attention in order to protect the helpless, including toddlers, the elderly and the sick. I wonder why no one was looking for him, not his family, his neighbors, or the education system.”