No laughing matterNo laughing matter

April Fools’ Day prank ends in arrests

Police fail to see the joke in faked armed robbery at Beit Shemesh kiosk

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Crime (illustrative photo: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Crime (illustrative photo: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

An April Fool’s Day prank backfired when police arrested three tricksters in Beit Shemesh after the joke they played on a friend led to a search for armed gunmen, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Tuesday.

The three friends had decided to play a trick on their mutual friend, the owner of a kiosk in the center of the town. However, events quickly ran out of control and ended with a court appearance to face charges of armed robbery.

The incident began when Assaf Ohanunah, 19, Vava Gershkovit, 22, and Michal Ben-Shabbat, 25, arrived at the Mifgash Harovah kiosk on Sunday night with their faces covered and armed with toy guns.

After announcing that they were there to rob the place the terrified owner handed over NIS 4,000 and the trio fled. The owner immediately called the police who began a search for the suspects.

An hour later the three “bandits” returned to the kiosk to deliver the punchline that the robbery was just an April Fool’s Day trick. The owner of the kiosk notified the police that the stick-up was fake, but cops promptly slapped handcuffs on the three jokers.

After being held in police custody for two days, the three were brought before Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on charges of armed robbery, threatening behavior and disturbing the peace.

According to Yedioth the kiosk owner was also not amused.

“I was shaking with fear when I saw the gun,” he said. “You don’t do things like that.”

Police representative First Sargent Yair Elihu explained during the court session why the police took such a serious view of the matter.

“The incident could have ended differently if an armed citizen or police officer would have seen armed men dressed as they were. The victim could also have pulled a knife and injured one of them and then they wouldn’t have been laughing.”

Elihu added that the police intend to issue an indictment over the incident.

Although police requested that the three be kept under house arrest, presiding judge Ornan Drael agreed to release them.

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