JERUSALEM, Israel – The father of an Israeli teen suspected of making threatening phone calls to dozens of Jewish community centers in the US as well as false bomb threats against airplanes said on Monday that the world must understand the mental condition of his son.
“The world must understand, this child is different, he is unique,” the man identified by the false name Eli told Israel’s Channel 2. His real name is being withheld by Israeli law enforcement authorities.
Previously, Israeli media outlets reported that Eli was working at a hi-tech company. In the interview with Channel 2 he explained that he has been suffering from medical problems due to his job and they have also affected his son.
“I have been exposed to thousands of very destructive chemicals,” the man said. “I have undergone three operations to remove tumors. My son also has a tumor.”
Echoing comments made by his wife, the teen’s mother, Eli called on Jews around the world to understand the situation of his son and expressed regret for his misdeeds:
“To all the Jews in the U.S., I would like to send an unequivocal message: We apologize from the bottom of our hearts. We are good Jews, we do not hate you. There was no hatred here. His motive is only the disease.”
In an earlier interview, the teen’s mother said he is autistic, as well as suffering from a brain tumor that is benign but presses on his brain and alters his behavior.
In the television interview, she said that from a young age it was clear that the boy could not function in the regular education system despite his high intelligence.
She said he was born with an abnormally large head and was slow in developing speaking skills, but that he showed great aptitude in solving puzzles.
As a boy, she added, the teen had trouble concentrating on tasks, writing or listening to music. “He couldn’t sit down, he’d walk around, shaking,” she said.
Initially, the teen and his father were arrested together. Police confiscated three computers as well as a wifi antenna used by the boy. The father was released last week to house arrest, while the teen remains in custody. The father said he did not suspect his son’s intentions when he bought the wifi antenna.
“He did not cooperate with the child,” claimed Eli’s attorney Ma’ayan Haimovitch. “He could not have known what the boy was doing, he had no possibility to know what the boy was doing. He [the child] was sitting in his room with the door closed.”
Police are expected to ask to extend the teen’s remand on Thursday. The father seeks to change this to house arrest, but according to Channel 2, police will insist on keeping the boy in police hands due to the assessment that he is dangerous to the public.
The teen’s lawyer, Shira Nir, said he “got into a medical situation that brought him to this place.”
“It wasn’t under his control. The deeds were not done out of will or malice. He needs medical attention even if it costs him his life, police understand this and at the end of the day his place is at home.”