This morning, Israel Police detained 28 people suspected of involvement in harassment and extortion with threats directed against managers at major government and private sector companies. The police carried out a search at the offices of the "Peles" newspaper and arrested senior editorial staff.
The search and arrests followed a six-month covert investigation. The suspects are said to have harassed and threatened company managers in attempts to persuade them to advertise in "Peles", a newspaper aimed at the haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) community.
The investigation began after the police received complaints from the companies concerned that were collated by the Jerusalem Police.
The complaints concerned unremitting harassment by telephone, e-mail, and faxes to CEOs and senior managers, in which the callers and message senders said they represented a large community that felt discriminated against because the company in question did not advertise in the newspaper that represented them, and that it ought to advertise in "Peles".
The police investigators found that the suspects contacted a telephone number daily and after identifying themselves received recorded details of the target companies and the level of harassment to be applied. The companies would then receive dozens or even hundreds of calls, e-mails and faxes. Family members of senior company managers were also targeted. Some companies canceled advertisement in other newspapers and media to avoid the harassment.
The suspects detained today on arrest warrants issued by a court were those considered ringleaders in the alleged harassment and extortion campaign. The arrests were made in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Modi'in Ilit, Ashdod, Rechasim, and Hadera.
In Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, police making arrests were mobbed by crowds and stones and other objects were hurled at them. The suspects will be brought before the Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court later today for hearings on extending their remand.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 18, 2017
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