The children were 7 and 4 at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. They had lived in both Israel and the United States. In December 1994 the parents divorced and were granted joint rights of custody. With parental agreement the Rabbinical District Court in Jerusalem ordered that the children would reside in Israel for at least two years after the divorce.
In 1996 the parties executed an amendment to their separation agreement that provided that the children could live with the mother in Massachusetts but not beyond 21 July 2000. It further provided that the children could not stay outside of Israel after that date and that they would study in Israel during the 2000-2001 school year.
On 1 July 1997 the mother brought proceedings in Massachusetts to modify the agreement and the Israeli order by removing the requirement that the children should eventually return to Israel. The Massachusetts Court granted the mother temporary legal and physical custody of the children.
On 6 July 1998 the father applied for the return of the children under the Convention.