Spate of Teen Stabbings Rocks Rishon Letzion

Three teens stabbed in city over past four days, despite increased police presence during weekends.

Three teens have been stabbed in Rishon Letzion over the past four days. The series of incidents began on Independence Day eve, when the 16-year-old son of a well-known former soccer player almost died after being stabbed in the thigh during a brawl in a public park. Police said the boy was an innocent bystander, stabbed on his way to the city's main Independence Eve performance. He was taken to Assaf Harofeh Hospital at Tzrifin, where he is still recovering.

In the second case, on Friday afternoon, a 13-year-old boy was knifed in the city park near the Rishon Letzion city hall and slightly injured, apparently during a fight between two groups of teens. Police arrested three minors near the scene of the crime, who deny involvement. An eye-witness told police he had seen one of the three earlier holding a knife.

In the third case, early Saturday morning, police received a report of a stabbing in the city park, and arrived on the scene to find three boys in the park between the ages of 16 and 17, one of whom had a slight stab wound and the others with bruises. Police believe the three were fighting with each other.

Rishon Letzion police say they beef up their forces to prevent such violence on the weekends in the city's club zone, where such fights often start. "But clearly we can't be everywhere," Chief Superintendent Ami Eshed, the local police chief, said. "The cluster of incidents over the past few days is unusual, but there are more brawls than people know. I'm glad to say that in most cases we manage to stop them before they deteriorate into serious violence or knife-use."

A municipal security company patrols, along with the police, the city's entertainment zones and is sometimes involved in detaining young men suspected of brawling or of crimes against property. In addition to enforcement, Eshed says education is important: "These young people have to understand how a combination of alcohol, possession of a knife and recklessness create violence that can be fatal."

The Rishon Letzion municipality said it has instructed its security company to increase its patrols. "We will work together with the best experts to root-out these cases in our city as much as possible, " the municipality also said.