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Teen arrested in Israel over bomb threats

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/03/2017 Miranda Lee Murray
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Israeli police are questioning a Jewish-Israeli teenager after he was arrested during an international investigation into a wave of bomb threats against Jewish centres around the world, including New Zealand.

The 19-year-old allegedly made dozens of threatening phone calls to Jewish centres across the US, as well as in Australia and New Zealand, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Thursday.

Israeli authorities and foreign law enforcement, including the FBI, worked together over the past few months to track down the suspect, who holds Israeli and American citizenship, Mr Rosenfeld said.

An Israeli court ruled later on Thursday that police could keep the teenager, whose name cannot be disclosed, in detention until April 30.

Mr Rosenfeld said that the suspect used technology to make himself harder to track and to mask his identity while making the threats, which caused "fear and panic in Jewish communities" around the world.

He added that, in one instance, bomb threats made by the suspect caused a plane to make an emergency landing.

Since the beginning of 2017, Jewish centres in some 20 US states have reported receiving more than 100 hoax bomb threats, according to US media outlets.

The increase in bomb threats, and in vandalization of several Jewish cemeteries, have prompted talk of a rise in anti-Semitism in the US, with a leading US Jewish group, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), issuing a nationwide "security advisory" last month.

The ADL said on Thursday that it was "relieved and thankful" that law enforcement had made the arrest.

"While motivation is unclear, the impact is crystal clear," the group said on Twitter. "Calling in bomb threats to Jewish institutions is an anti-Semitic act."

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