Police revealed Thursday that an undercover operation that involved a female officer posing as a 13-year-old girl led to the arrest of 14 suspects earlier this week.
One of the suspects was arrested in his car after he drove to a “meeting” he had set with the policewoman. Another, a 64-year-old man from Netanya, teaches at a school in central Israel, police said in a statement. The undercover operation ran for four months before police finally moved in to make arrests.
The suspects were investigated on suspicion of sex offenses including attempted rape, attempting an obscene act on a minor, possession and publication of obscene material featuring minors, and other offenses.
All of the suspects were remanded in custody by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, where police filed preliminary court papers ahead of an indictment against the arrested teacher. Five of the suspects were released to house arrest Thursday.
השבוע יצר חשוד קשר עם סוכנת סמויה, שהתחזתה לנערה בת 13 בצ'אטים של רשתות חברתיות. הוא ביקש להיפגש איתה לאחר סיום יום הלימודים, בטענה שהוא רוצה לתת לה מתנה. עם הגעתו למיקום שנקבע, ניתן האות ובלשי המשטרה עצרו אותו pic.twitter.com/WYevrckSM9
— משטרת ישראל (@IL_police) October 25, 2018
In order to lure in offenders, police set up a fake room that was decorated to appear like that of a typical 13-year-old girl. A policewoman then spent several hours a day on various social websites and forums where she drew the attention of the suspects, apparently because they believed she would be “easy prey,” police said.
As the operation was drawing to a close, one of the suspects, a 73-year-old man, contacted the policewoman. Believing he was communicating with a teen, he asked to meet her after school Sunday so that he could give her a gift. Police were waiting at the scene and swooped down on his car and arrested him.
When they arrested the suspects, police also searched their homes, confiscating media equipment that investigators suspect were used to commit the crimes.
The arrests came days after police announced 26 suspects had been arrested for crimes against minors online in a similar sting operation using a female undercover agent.
Also Thursday, the Beersheba District Court sentenced a father of two from the south of the country to 15 years in prison for serious sex offense he committed on his daughter, aged 4. The man, 38, filmed the crimes and shared the footage with other pedophiles around the world. On some occasions he also broadcast the acts live to others via the web or performed requested acts in return for money.