Dozens of people were arrested in Tel Aviv on Tuesday during chaos ahead of a match between Tel Aviv’s two major professional soccer teams.
The so-called Tel Aviv derby pits Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv against each other in a charged annual meeting. Tuesday’s edition saw Maccabi spank Hapoel by a score of 5-0.
Fighting with police broke out ahead of the game at Bloomfield Stadium, which both clubs call home, as fans were checked for contraband, after an apparent raid on a fan club earlier in the day revealed a cache of pyrotechnics and weapons, according to police.
“During the security checks, fans started to disturb public order by rioting, throwing objects and attempts to break through the gates,” police said in a statement.
Some 120 people were arrested during the chaos outside the stadium and following the discovery of what media reports said were weapons and fireworks in a storage area connected to a Hapoel fan clubhouse. Two officers were injured by thrown objects, police said.
Footage showed police on horseback being pelted with small objects as they rode through groups of fans.
אין סיבה שכח פרשים ידהר ככה לתוך המון באירוע כזה.
יום שהתחיל בשיחוק של המשטרה עם הפשיטה על מחסני האבוקות נגמר (?) בבושה. pic.twitter.com/0YYWvlkC01
— Tal Shorrer (@TalShorrer) September 26, 2023
Authorities said they confiscated 120 flares, 35 smoke grenades, four flare guns and two Molotov cocktails, including during the security check.
Other contraband included airsoft guns, metal bars and clubs, Channel 12 news reported.
Police said they had organizers push off the game by 30 minutes to allow “safe entrance to the match.”
According to reports, police forced organizers to close the gates as unrest built due to the security checks, creating a crush at various entrances.
— גלצ (@GLZRadio) September 26, 2023
“Suddenly, in the middle of everyone waiting in line, the police closed the entrance and people were crushed together like sardines,” an attendee told Channel 12 news. “People were shouting, ‘Let me out,’ because they didn’t have air to breathe.”
Footage also showed Maccabi Tel Aviv fans attempting to break through a closed gate to get into the stadium.
— החדשות – N12 (@N12News) September 26, 2023
תיעוד: ניסיון הפריצה של אוהדי מכבי תל אביב לשער 11 בבלומפילד • 90 אוהדים משתי הקבוצות נעצרו. עד כה נתפסו 120 אבוקות, 35 רימוני עשן, 4 אקדחי זיקוקים ושני בקבוקי תבערה • ארגון האוהדים "אולטראס הפועל" קרא לאוהדי הקבוצה להחרים את המשחק: "להביע סולידריות עם העצורים"@lianwildau pic.twitter.com/QYrzMc5rhb
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) September 26, 2023
Israeli soccer games are occasionally marred by violence from fans.
In May, after Beitar Jerusalem won a championship game, its fans stormed the field, setting off chaos and forcing the evacuation of President Isaac Herzog.