The popular horror movie IT, based on the book by Stephen King, has stirred up a disturbing phenomenon in the streets of Israel: Young men and women have begun dressing up as clowns and scaring passers-by around the country. The Israel Police, together with local municipalities and concerned parents, are taking the threat seriously and a number of teens have already been detained.

Clowns in the streets

Clowns in the streets Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Over the past few days, as the horror film “IT” plays in movie theaters around Israel, young men and women disguised as frightening clowns have been terrorizing passers-by. In the movie, a shapeshifting demon takes the form of a clown as he hunts down children. The Israel Police has already arrested four teens in Kiryat Gat and Holon who dressed as scary clowns and local authorities around the country have joined forces to try to locate the suspects terrorizing the streets.

Two teens, aged 14 and 16 from Kiryat Gat, were questioned by the Lachish police force after the latter received complaints that two clowns were walking around scaring people with masks on their faces. The two teens claimed that they were ‘just joking around.’ Two other teen boys from Holon were detained last night after they were seen frightening passers-by with clown masks in a public park. A police patrol that arrived at the scene searched the boys and found that they were armed with a hammer which they were allegedly using to frighten people.

Be’er Sheva’s Mayor Rubik Danilovich said on Tuesday morning that “this is a very sad and dangerous joke! Anyone taking part in this sick thing is endangering both himself and the residents. We and the police will act with zero tolerance,” he said. “We do not lack problems and struggles in this country, so I expect the clowns to regain their composure quickly and behave maturely and responsibly.”

Many concerned parents and residents have been circulating messages and warnings in various Facebook and Whatsapp groups over the past few days. “The clowns have landed in Israel,” one such message read. “Many Israelis are going to be very afraid in the coming days, unfortunately.” Another read: “Don’t leave the house, keep watch over your children- don’t take any chances.”