Following a covert investigation spanning several months, the Israel Police arrested 23 individuals suspected of pedophilia
and online sex offenses on Tuesday morning.
The police launched the comprehensive covert investigation a few months ago, which included an undercover police officer pretending to be a minor and chatting with the suspects on social media on different occasions. Upon gaining the evidence required, the police arrested 23 suspects from across the country at the same time.
According to a police statement, the suspects who were arrested all carried out different strategies for contacting the supposed minor and trying to convince her to film herself and share sexual photographs with them.
Some went as far as trying to arrange a meeting with whom they thought was a minor, and even sent her pornographic videos and images themselves.
The 23 suspects face charges ranging from indecent acts to sexual assault
of a minor. While searching the suspects’ homes, police collected computers and other digital storage units as evidence.
The police released a statement after publishing the details of the covert operation and warned parents from allowing young children to spend too much time on social media platforms without any supervision.
“Many children and teenagers have been experiencing social distancing and isolation in recent months, and they spend their time surfing the web while using the different social media platforms without parental supervision,” the police statement read.
The police statement listed some practical tips for ensuring children use the internet safely, including setting configurations that can help parents make sure that strangers cannot directly message their kids on WhatsApp and defining strict filters on search engines like Google and Yahoo that minimize the risk of being exposed to adult material.
Other than technical tips for protecting children, the statement also called on parents to take active measures in educating their children about the threats of the internet and social media.
“The most important thing you can do is encourage your children to communicate with you and with any other adult they trust or dial 105 in case they, or one of their friends, has been hurt or made to feel uncomfortable by someone online,” the statement concluded.