Hareidi students
Hareidi students Flash90

Who set fire to a hareidi girls' school over the weekend? Police say it was likely local juvenile delinquents, but leaders of the Bobov girls' school in Bat Yam said that the two suspects, even if they are guilty, did not act alone; the media, which has in recent weeks been “inciting” against the hareidi community, was guilty as well.

According to school officials, the two youths who are the most likely suspects of the attempted arson were seen on Friday roaming around the school. The two teenagers live in the neighborhood and the school officials recognized them. The youths were seen trying to climb a fence in order to break into the building, and were seen setting off firecrackers in the school's courtyard.

The two were approached by staff and told that if they did not leave immediately, they would be reported to police. The youths left, and students and staff still on the grounds left the school compound.

Right before Shabbat, however, neighbors noticed flames jutting out of the building, and called firefighters. The firefighters put out the blaze, which had been started in a ground-floor hallway. The hallway suffered heavy damage, and several displays that were hanging in the hallway were destroyed. An investigation showed that the arsonists also broke into classrooms and offices, apparently before setting the fire.

According to witnesses, the two youths who had been thrown off the grounds earlier returned later Friday night, and began spray painting graffiti on the building. Other graffiti were found in a neighboring park, with vulgar expressions aimed at the students, as well as messages sprayed on playground equipment that said “not for hareidi use,” “draft hareidim now,” and “everyone must serve (in the IDF).”

School administrators suspect the youths and want police to question them. However, even if they set the fire, said one community member, they weren't the only guilty party. “The media has turned the question of army service into a movement for hating hareidim,” said the community member. “They are just as responsible as the youths for this act.”