Israeli teenager arrested for bomb threats to JCCs

Photo of the JCC on Hoover Road on the city's northwest side. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Israeli police arrested a Jewish teenager Thursday in connection with a series of bomb threats that have rattled Jewish institutions and community centers across the U.S. and other countries.

And that includes the JCC in Indianapolis.

The JCC on Hoover Road on the city’s northwest side had two bomb threats called in.

Police arrested the teenager in Israel after an undercover FBI investigation. Israeli police say they don’t know the motive, yet. But the JCC here says his actions won’t stop them from doing what they do.

“If we were to pull back and not do those things, then we’re allowing those people who are spewing the hatred or the lack of tolerance, we’re giving them that platform and that’s not something we’re prepared to do,” said Jon Shapiro, the vice president of membership at the JCC. “What we’ve learned certainly throughout Jewish history is that Jewish people are vigilant and remain persistent in all that we do, and that certainly is the case here,” said Shapiro.

Israeli police say the 19-year-old called in dozens of threats. He appeared in court today and holds dual American-Israeli citizenship. Israeli police say he used advanced technology to cover up the origin of his calls and communications.

“We can certainly all rest a little easier and at the same time, I think we need to continue to remain vigilant,” said Shapiro.

Local authorities were able to quickly determine the calls were hoaxes. But in response, the center increased security.

In a statement released this afternoon, the JCC Association of North America said: “JCCs have had the opportunity to review and assess our security protocols and procedures, and we are confident that JCCs are safer today than ever before.”

The Anti-Defamation League reports there have been 150 bomb threats against U.S. Jewish community centers and day schools since Jan. 9.

While the teenager may be arrested for the hoaxes, they say real threats remain.

“While this one aspect may be complete, there are other things that are continuing to happen around the country with desecration of cemeteries, and what appears to be a rise in anti-Semitic behavior throughout the country: college campuses, cemeteries, religious institutions,” said Shapiro.

Police haven’t released the suspect’s name. He’s due back in court March 30.

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