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Israeli soccer team in Nice requests extra security after knife attack

Hapoel Beersheba, in France for match against OGC Nice, reportedly relying on local security after deadly stabbing at church

Hapoel Beersheba fans wave Israeli flags before the UEFA Champions League group stages play-off soccer match between Celtic and Hapoel Beersheba at the Turner Stadium in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on August 23, 2016. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)
Hapoel Beersheba fans wave Israeli flags before the UEFA Champions League group stages play-off soccer match between Celtic and Hapoel Beersheba at the Turner Stadium in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on August 23, 2016. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)

Israeli soccer team Hapoel Beersheba has reportedly requested extra protection from French authorities after a deadly attack by a suspected Islamist terrorist near their hotel in the southern city of Nice.

The team is in Nice for a match scheduled for Thursday against OGC Nice.

On Thursday morning, an attacker armed with a knife stormed Nice’s Notre Dame church, killing two people inside. A third person was fatally wounded and died after feeling to a nearby bar. The assailant was wounded by police and hospitalized, and a terror investigation was opened.

Thursday’s attacker was believed to be acting alone and police are not searching for other assailants, said two police officials, who were not authorized to be publicly named.

But tensions remain high over the re-publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The caricatures have ignited Muslim anger around the world.

Prime Minister Jean Castex told French lawmakers that the country would raise its alert level to “emergency” in response to the attack.

The Israeli team, which was staying at a hotel about a kilometer from the scene of the attack, did not have Israeli security with them at all times.

Instead, when at the hotel they relied on hotel security, and when traveling to the stadium or airport, relied on local police, according to the Ynet news website.

French members of the elite tactical police unit RAID enter the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice as forensics officers wait outside after a knife attack in Nice on October 29, 2020. (Valery HACHE / AFP)

The team was sequestered in the hotel during the attack due to UEFA regulations which require teams to remain in their hotels in order to minimize COVID-19 infections among players, according to Hebrew media reports.

The game is set to take place as scheduled Thursday night.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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