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In an attempt to curb the growing number of violent altercations between young weekend revelers, police will maintain a constant presence at nightclubs and bars throughout the weekend, beginning Thursday evening.
As part of "Night Watch," as the program is called, uniformed police officers and volunteers will scan party spots for anyone who looks as if he or she might be carrying a weapon. Undercover officers will also patrol clubs to prevent consumption of drugs and alcohol, Israel Radio reported.
Any minor caught under the influence will be detained by police and will have to remain at the police station until picked up by a parent or guardian.
However, Asst.-Cmdr. Suzy Ben-Baruch, head of the Israel Police's youth department, told The Jerusalem Post last week that the appearance of a countrywide rise in youth violence is deceiving. The number of cases documented by police indicates there have actually been fewer violent crimes committed by youth so far in 2006 compared to the same period last year, she said.
According to official figures released by the police, the total number of youth felonies for 2005 was 37,981, a decrease of 6.1% from the year before, which saw a total of 40,456 felonies. A felony includes anything from brawls and fistfights to stabbings and more serious incidents of violence, said Ben-Baruch. The statistics do not indicate whether the perpetrators were ever prosecuted or how serious the crime.
She explained that the lower figures were a result of intensive police activity in the battle against juvenile delinquents in society. A growth in media attention has also meant that the public is more vigilant about violent crimes, she said.
'We have been carrying out an intensive war against youth violence over the past year. There has been much media attention and the clubs know if they don't deal with the problem then we will revoke their licenses,' said Ben- Baruch, adding that the police have closed down more than 100 clubs in the past year because of violence on the premises.
While there has been a drop in youth crime, Ben-Baruch conceded that the seriousness of the crimes has intensified and the age of those carrying out the crimes has fallen.