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The Tel Aviv District Court yesterday slapped a five-year prison sentence on Shai Arbiv, who was convicted in a plea bargain of pimping three underaged girls and of hooking both them and four other girls on drugs. He was also fined NIS 10,000.

"It seems there's no need to waste words on the severity of the defendant's acts," the judges wrote in their verdict. "These are minors who came from difficult backgrounds and were having trouble surviving, yet the defendant did not hesitate to exploit them shamefully for his own needs."

Arbiv did not use force to get the girls to engage in prostitution, the judges noted; rather, he gained their consent by splitting the profits with them. But the very fact that he used girls aged 15 to 16 in such a fashion is sufficient testimony to the severity of his crimes, they said.

And as if all this were not enough, they concluded, "he pushed these girls, and other girls, into drug use." This combination of pimping and drug crimes "demands a painful and severe penalty."

Nevertheless, they acknowledged, there were some mitigating factors: that Arbiv's apartment served some of these girls as a refuge from terrible family or institutional situations; that he never used violence or force against them; and that he took responsibility and expressed regret for his actions.