The testimonies keep repeating themselves: A foreign child lives for years with an Israeli foster family, and then, after the case is transferred to Tel Aviv Municipality’s Mesila unit, something changes. Suddenly, the authorities want to get the child back with the biological mother as quickly as possible, even if nothing has changed regarding her ability to raise him. Along the way, the foster families claim, there are lies, dismissive attitudes, and a lack of concern for the children’s welfare. A joint investigation by Shomrim and Haaretz newspaper
With almost 70 homicides in a decade, most of which remain unsolved, Lod is Israel’s most dangerous and bloody city. Over the past few months, Shomrim has been out and about in the city • Between crime scenes and a police force that is helpless • Between victims’ families and reconciliation committees • Between kids with guns and women who have been abandoned to their fate • In Lod, it seems, even a utility bill or a kids’ soccer game can become the cause of a bloody feud. This project is published in cooperation with “Seven Days”, Yedioth Ahronoth’s weekend supplement
As long as they are under 18, the state provides health insurance for statusless people in Israel. But what happens on the day that they become legal adults? They are left with no access to medicine or healthcare, even when this could put their lives at risk. The same is true for people who are not candidates for deportation, and even those who were once under the wings of the welfare authorities. According to estimates, the number of people in Israel with no medical insurance is expected to skyrocket. A Shomrim follow-up
Israel could easily solve the problem of hungry children at a negligible cost, but instead, the state opts to leave the issue to NGOs and independent initiatives by teachers and schools. Part two of ‘Bottom of the Food Chain,’ a special Shomrim project: There are solutions, and some of them are already showing positive results
More than 660,000 Israeli children suffer from food insecurity, and around half are hungry. The only hot meal many of them get is at school, but the Education Ministry’s feeding program is only for children in primary schools. The food disappears as soon as a child is in seventh grade, and the implications, including violence and attrition, can be severe. The first in a two-part project, published in collaboration with Musaf Calcalist: A journey to the last-chance highs schools that are forced deal with the education system’s rumbling stomach
Police forces worldwide have encountered a new problem in recent years: Information on suspects’ cellular devices is stored on overseas cloud servers – ostensibly out of reach of local search warrants. A case currently being heard in an Israeli courtroom, however, reveals that local legal authorities were aware of the problem but, despite concerns over harming foreign relations, created a method of bypassing the law and allowing these searches to go ahead – even though it’s in violation of an international charter signed by dozens of countries. Israel is not alone: Only a handful of countries have passed relevant legislation. A Shomrim report
Shomrim continues to update readers on Israel’s opioid plague. During a High Court hearing this week, the Health Ministry stated unequivocally for the first time that the long-term use of opioid painkillers always leads to physical addiction. The ministry also said it would consider more aggressive health warnings on painkillers
A freedom of information request submitted by Shomrim reveals the numbers behind one of the most sensitive crimes in any democratic regime. Only three of the indictments filed in Israel for the crime of incitement were not nationalist in nature: two were directed at Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the other was for comments aimed at judges. A senior prosecutor explains: The gulf between Jews and Arabs is because there are more banned Palestinian terror groups and because the so-called ‘hilltop youth’ does not use social media. A Shomrim exposé
Tens of thousands of children born in Israel are growing up without an identity card. They receive welfare services and education, but officially they hardly exist. Even those who are wards of the state and who live in boarding schools or foster families remain transparent, and, once they become adults, they are left to their own devices. "I don't have an ID card, so I certainly can't get a passport. It's even harder for me to find a job," says 20-year-old Roni. A special Shomrim report
Shomrim reveals how the Health Ministry issued new directives to hospitals and HMOs regarding the regulation and restriction of opioid use. In an internal document, the ministry confirmed the findings of a series of investigative reports by Shomrim, which highlighted the sharp rise in the number of users, the length of time they took opioids, and the dosage. In response, the ministry said: “This is only a draft. The circular has been sent out for comments and corrections and we are waiting to get feedback from the field. If needed, we will issue even clearer guidelines.”
Russian private jets have filled the tarmac at Ben-Gurion Airport, huge sums of money are looking for a way to get here – and Israeli law, for the most part, doesn’t have the answers. By law, an account in Israel can only be frozen if it is linked to terrorism or the Iranian nuclear program. Experts warn that banks may be obeying American sanctions and helping Israel avoid international embarrassment, but one small change that would allow money to be transferred from Russia could alter the whole picture. A Shomrim report.
An official from the human trafficking authority tells Shomrim that “there has also been a spike in online demand for what’s referred to as ‘new Ukrainian women.’” The National Anti-Trafficking Coordination Unit is unsurprised by the phenomenon and says that, in the coming days, it plans to set up information kiosks for female refugees arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport. “We’re thinking on our feet,” says Attorney Dina Dominitz, the unit director. A Shomrim report.
The story of Benny is a perfect example of the absurdity of implementing the principle of publicizing legal proceedings. The indictment filed against him is open to the public and, as a result, it appears in Google when searching for his name. This has had profound ramifications for his work and his private life. However, the withdrawal of that indictment is not in the public domain and does not come up in any internet search. A special committee established to find a solution never completed its work. And that’s not all: a law that would have shortened the period that a criminal record for minor crimes from 17 years to four, to help rehabilitate offenders, is not being implemented. Transparency, memory and justice – a Shomrim report.
One week after Calcalist revealed that NSO’s Pegasus malware had been deployed on the cellphones of Israeli citizens, data obtained by Shomrim shines a light on almost three million classified police files – and reveals the vast extent to which the Israel Police uses wiretaps. In 2020, police filed 3,692 requests for a wiretap. Only 26 were rejected by the court. In addition to wiretapping, when one adds to that the number of search warrants police requests – warrants that allow them to infiltrate suspects’ computers and which are often handed out ex parte by a magistrate’s court – the number leaps to 65,000 requests a year, almost all of which are approved. In the United States and the United Kingdom, those figures are significantly lower. Are the courts overseeing, or are they a rubber stamp? A special Shomrim report.
The spread of the opioid pandemic in Israel could have been prevented – or at least mitigated – almost 20 years ago, by introducing a computerized system to thwart unregulated use of prescriptions. A Health Ministry committee unanimously recommended it, the Knesset debated it several times and the government even found the budget to fund it. But the project never came into being and even today, in 2022, there’s no supervision of opioid prescriptions. The Justice Ministry says that the problem lies with personal privacy, but still manages to operate a similar system for the supervision of over 100,000 registered cannabis users. So, what’s the difference? The third part in a series of Shomrim investigations into the opioid crisis.
The answer is that waits for approval for over three years. Just like in the case of the PET-CT scanners that Shomrim covered in a previous investigation, Israel lags far behind other OECD countries when it comes to MRI scanners. The reason is not lack of funding, but a government policy to limit spending on healthcare and to scale back expensive tests. As a result, patients are being scheduled for tests in the middle of the night and must wait months for an appointment. When one delves deeper into the picture, one finds – yet again – that those in remote communities have it worst. A Shomrim follow-up.
Despite all the revelations in the United States about the opioid epidemic – and the role played by Purdue Pharma – there are people in Israel who are marketing them with the claim that use will only lead to addiction in 1 percent of cases. In the second part of Shomrim’s ‘The Prescription Plague’ series, we turn to the drug companies and examine their relationship with the medical establishment. But is asking them “like asking a cat what it thinks about eating mice”? Their response: “Drug companies have no intention or ability to sway the opinion of medical researchers.”
Residents of the Jerusalem Hills can hardly believe their eyes when they see how their streams and agricultural lands are being flooded by a combination of construction waste and filthy soil from building sites. Anyone who dares to complain is met with a violent response and the fines imposed on contractors are a drop in the ocean. Even the Environmental Protection Ministry admits that it’s helpless. “It’s like the destruction of the Temple,” says Itzik, a resident of Kfar Uria, as he points to a huge mound of dirt that is blocking the flow of a stream – and under which has been buried polluting construction material. “It’s like the Wild West here,” says moshavnik Tal. A Shomrim investigation.
Three years ago, the Health Ministry set up a special committee to regulate the prescription of opioids. That was an understated response to a deadly plague that has shattered American society, seen otherwise normative people become addicted to painkillers prescribed by their family doctor – and half a million deaths. According to official figures, one in every 10 Israelis takes some form of opioid – but that does not take into account what is happening on the black market. Shomrim reveals the protocols of the Health Ministry’s Opioid Committee. Part 1 in a series.
The answer is very little. The various branches of the government – the Tax Authority, National Insurance Institute, the police, the Defense Ministry, the health system, and many others – hold large amounts of data about every single Israeli citizen. From time to time, an employee of one of these officers will take a surreptitious look at some of these personal files. In most cases, they are not caught, and, on the rare occasion when they are, the punishment is remarkably lenient. Officials from the Privacy Protection Authority say that there’s nothing they can do to counter the phenomenon.
Shomrim reveals: Some three years ago, the EAPC discovered that a section of its oil pipeline – close to the sea and 200 meters from a residential area in Haifa – was damaged. The damage was caused, it seems, by infrastructure work that the EAPC wasn’t involved in. The company’s chief engineer said it was “a miracle” that the line wasn’t ruptured, which would have led to an ecological catastrophe. He made the same claim in court. Nonetheless, the company now claims that there was no danger posed to the environment.
Six months before the EAPC’s serious ecological disaster at the Zin Stream, and four years after the Evrona incident, there was another oil leak near the IDF’s Shizafon base. An investigation by Shomrim reveals that 100 tons of contaminate earth was removed the site – but the public didn’t hear a single word about it. Between Zin and Evrona, there was almost another catastrophic oil leak. The EAPC’s response: We reported it to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and we are committed to protecting natural resources. The EAPC scandal, the second in a series.
A Shomrim investigation reveals that a section of pipeline containing 7.5 million liters of jet fuel and diesel has been left untouched for years – despite the clear danger of a horrific ecological disaster. The reason: a legal battle over the value of the oil. Another section of the same pipeline is also full of fuel and the Environmental Protection Ministry is demanding it be emptied immediately. In the past two months, following a deal with a company from the UAE, the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Company claims that it adheres to stringent standards and cares about the environment. But does it?
Last week, there was another leak in the Ashkelon-Haifa pipeline and 800 tons of contaminated earth have already been removed from the site. Two Mekorot facilities have been shut down until the impact on water quality can be assessed. Unlike previous ecological disasters, this one does not appear to have an external cause. “It’s a very serious incident,” said the environment minister, after the company that owns the pipeline called it “a leak with a small quantity of oil.”