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Judea and Samaria Police receive between 30,000 and 40,000 abusive calls from Palestinians every month, The Jerusalem Post has been told.
Police operators at the Judea and Samaria phone center undergo special training to learn how to distinguish between abusive and real calls, and a computerized phone system is used to screen out the bogus callers, Ch.-Supt. Nir Carmeli, head of Judea and Samaria Police’s Control Room at district headquarters in Ma’aleh Adumim’s E1 (Mevaseret Adumim) neighborhood, said on Thursday.
“Without the screening, we would be getting 90,000 to 100,000 bad calls a month,” Carmeli said. The calls range from personally abusive to threats of terrorist attacks, he added.
“We often hear people cursing our sisters and mothers. Sometimes we get callers threatening to blow us up or carry out a suicide bomb attack,” he said. “When that happens, we treat the call as a real threat. We pass a warning on to the IDF and Shin Bet. It goes through intelligence, and the security forces are alerted. We know it could be bogus, but we don’t take chances,” Carmeli said.
“Efforts to trace the call continue until we can determine whether it is a real threat or not,” he added.
With 50-60 percent of all calls coming into headquarters being abusive, and operators fielding an average of 1,500 bogus calls a month, Carmeli said the problem has “really harmed our ability to respond to calls. New operators are insulted when they’re told to screw their sisters. Years ago, we would answer the calls by introducing ourselves, but this has stopped because harassers would call back pretending to be friends and asking for operators by name, and it became uncomfortable.”
Now operators give their first name only after a call is identified as legitimate.
“With all the threats and curses, officers are shocked during their first weeks on the job as operators. We train them not to curse back, but to simply hang up,” he added.
The training is designed to help operators identify a bona fide request for police assistance within the sea of hate calls.
“The decision must be made in seconds, and time is of the essence so that we can provide assistance when needed,” Carmeli said. “Let’s say we field a call and hear someone say, ‘Sharmuta
[whore], want to get screwed?’ The phone number is immediately tagged by the system, and it cannot be used to get through to an operator for 21 days. The next time an abusive call is made from that number, it cannot be used to call an operator for over a month,” he said.
After several repeat offenses, the number is permanently banned from the system.
“The caller will hear a ring tone and the computer will pick up the phone and immediately hang up,” he said.
Some of the most determined offenders switch numbers and use stolen cellphones to keep up the harassment, Carmeli said.
No settlers are behind the calls, he said. “All the callers are Palestinians. They curse at us in Hebrew and in Arabic.”