Preteens suspected of setting 70 fires around Beit Shemesh
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Preteens suspected of setting 70 fires around Beit Shemesh

Group of 12-year-olds, allegedly motivated by boredom and competition, caused damage to nature areas and forced evacuations of buildings

Illustrative: Children watch a fire raging in Jerusalem, July 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Illustrative: Children watch a fire raging in Jerusalem, July 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

A group of young children are suspected in a wave of arson incidents around the central Israeli city of Beit Shemesh.

Seven children, all around the age of 12, allegedly set around 70 fires in the area over the past year, police said.

In a few cases, buildings and educational institutions were evacuated, and in others, damage was caused to nature areas.

The suspects were detained for questioning and later released to their homes with restrictions. Welfare authorities are looking into the case.

Most of the fires occurred around the neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh.

The children allegedly hid flammable materials near their schools and ignited them during breaks or at the end of the school day, then watched fire crews come to extinguish the blazes, according to the religious news site Kikar Hashabbat.

They were motivated by boredom and may have been competing with each other, the report said.

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