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Outrage over child abuse at day-care facility in Israel leads to nationwide protests

Thousands of Israeli parents took to the streets to demand child-care reform after a 25-year-old day-care owner was revealed to have been systematically abusing toddlers.

Parents protest with their children against the lack of oversight in Israeli kindergartens, in Haifa, July 7, 2019. Photo by Flash90.
Parents protest with their children against the lack of oversight in Israeli kindergartens, in Haifa, July 7, 2019. Photo by Flash90.

Chanting “the country demands justice for the children” and other slogans, thousands of Israelis protested in some 25 locations around the country on Sunday to demand state oversight of day-care centers, amid outrage over a case in which a private kindergarten teacher systematically abused children under her care.

Roads were blocked in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as furious parents waved signs reading “Mother, Father, save me” and “Don’t abandon our children,” just days after hidden camera footage was released of Rosh Ha’ayin kindergarten caregiver Carmel Mauda, 25, abusing children.

Parents of the children and their supporters are demanding that child-care oversight laws be strengthened and more severely enforced, and that private day-care facilities be brought under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry. Public day-care in the form of preschool is currently available to children from the age of 3.

Charges against Mauda, who ran the Baby Love day-care center, accuse her of violence against 11 children, ranging in age from 3 months to 3 years.

She is accused of covering children with blankets and sitting on them to prevent them from moving; forcing children to stand against a wall for hours; lifting toddlers by the arms and throwing them down; shaking babies; hitting and slapping toddlers; and pulling their heads back while obstructing their breathing. In one case, she is even charged with force-feeding a child “the contents of a plate on which he had vomited.”

The footage led to nationwide horror and protests outside Mauda’s home and day-care center, which went up in flames on Saturday in what is believed to have been an arson attack. Currently under arrest, Mauda was not on the premises.

Hebrew media reported that Mauda initially denied the allegations, but told investigators “I am a monster” and “I was Satan here” when presented with the video evidence.

Mauda was allegedly reported by the last of eight different employees she hired and fired in the past year. Another unnamed assistant has also been arrested.

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