Clown arrests continue as masked youths scare Israeli society

Four people were arrested in two separate incidents.

Two of the masks recovered after the arrests of 2 youths, October 2017 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Two of the masks recovered after the arrests of 2 youths, October 2017
(photo credit: Courtesy)
More than a dozen teens dressed in clown costumes and wielding plastic weapons were arrested throughout the country over the weekend for continuing to frighten communities in a disturbing trend possibly spawned by the release of the horror film It.
For nearly one week the suspects – seemingly undeterred by heightened police patrols – have terrified children and adults alike in parks and other public venues from the North to the South, resulting dozens of calls to the police.
Last Monday, a 10-year-old girl from Beersheba was surrounded and pepper-sprayed by a group of teenagers wearing clown costumes and makeup, while four other children under 13 were detained for frightening drivers on a highway near Dimona.
In Beersheba on Tuesday night, a scuffle between a teenager dressed as clown and a frightened citizen ended in the suspect being stabbed.
The would-be clown, who was stabbed in the upper body, was transferred to an area hospital in moderate condition.
In the central city of Ramle, police arrested an 18-year-old boy after receiving multiple reports of a clown, carrying a plastic hammer, scaring children and adults at a public park.
In Holon, Haifa and Rishon Lezion, dozens of calls were received about similar encounters.
Although police announced heightened patrols and a “zero tolerance policy” against frightening people on Wednesday, the clown sightings continued throughout the weekend.
On Thursday night, a 14 and 15-year-old armed with a plastic ax and knife were arrested in the central Sharon region. Also on Thursday, police arrested a 14-year-old boy hiding in bushes in Nazareth while wearing a mask and carrying a toy gun.
On Friday night, a 15-year-old boy was arrested in Northern Jerusalem for dressing up as a clown and carrying a plastic ax near a public area, while a 13-year-old boy was detained in Ramat Hasharon for wearing a clown mask and carrying a baseball bat.
On Saturday afternoon, five minors dressed in clown costumes and carrying plastic weapons were arrested in Ma’aleh Adumin for scaring residents there.
Meanwhile, three teens were arrested in Kiryat Yam for dressing as clowns and chasing children.
The trend has also permeated Arab villages in the West Bank, where two teens were arrested Saturday for intimidating young residents while wearing the masks.
Although no serious injuries have been reported by the suspects, police on Sunday requested that parents discuss the disturbing trend with their children, monitor their social media accounts, and stress that they should not take the law into their own hands.
“Parents should speak to their children about this [phenomenon], ensure that they are not involved, and report any suspicious activity to police immediately,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.