police car 298.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
After two incidents of suspected youth violence rocked the country in the past 36 hours, police defended against allegations that they are failing to check a mini-crime wave emerging among youth during the high school teachers' strike. Instead, police claim, despite the stabbing murder of a 16-year-old early Monday morning and the alleged rape and drugging of a 12-year-old girl by two 13-year-old boys a day earlier, crime rates among youth are actually down relative to last year.
"The Israel Police has been prepared for the period of the strike in accordance with the situation assessments that occur regularly in each district, regarding force distribution which had focused on entertainment areas," said an officer in the national police headquarters.
"In addition, the Youth Crimes Unit of the Israel Police has been concentrating an effort against the factors that tend to bring about crime and violence, including consumption of alcohol by minors," he continued.
Police released data Monday arguing that physical violence among youth had actually declined by 23 percent in comparison to last year, and that violence-related offenses such as threats and weapons possession had declined by 19%. During the strike period, they said, relative to the same period last year, 48% fewer cases were opened against youth for attacks, 38% fewer for street disturbances and brawls, and there was an 80% reduction for rape.
None of those details, however, satisfied activists working against youth violence.
The organization 'Le'an - For Preventing Youth Violence' offered alternative data, claiming that the number of calls to their youth crimes hotline in recent days had reached nearly ten times the number received during the same period last year.
"Yesterday's murder of a 16-year-old teenager by other youth in Herzliya is an expression of the violence found among youth, which is becoming more severe all the time while the education system and the government aren't doing anything. Youth violence is a greater threat to us than the threat of terror attack," the organization wrote in a missive Monday afternoon.
The notice came hours after police announced that two minors were the lead suspects in the murder of 16-year-old Raziel Hajaj, a promising young player with the Maccabi Haifa youth soccer squad. Hajaj was stabbed to death during a fight in Herzliya early Monday morning, and the two suspects are in police custody.
Police called to the parking lot of a commercial area in Herzliya's Neveh Israel neighborhood discovered Hajaj's body. Eyewitnesses told police that several minutes earlier, a fight had broken out involving several youths who managed to run away before the officers arrived.
Glilot Station Chief Dep.-Cmdr. Yitzhak Getenyo said later Monday that the fight was the result of youths wandering the streets with nothing to do.
Meanwhile Monday, the two 13-year-olds suspected by police of intoxicating and then sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in Pardess Hanna were released to three days of house arrest after spending one night in jail.
The girl, described by her father as a creative, intelligent bookworm, awoke from her coma Monday after lying unconscious for over 24 hours after the incident. Police are still awaiting the final results of a gynecological examination that will indicate whether the girl, who was found naked, was in fact the victim of a sexual assault.
The boys' attorneys have argued that no evidence supports that any such assault took place, and claim that the girl went over to one of the boys' houses, where she proceeded to drink herself into a state of unconsciousness.