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Police arrest Palestinian soccer coach whose team posed with photo of terrorist

Maher Abu Sanina faces incitement charges after members of club hold up banner hailing Mesbah Abu Sabih, who killed 2 Israelis in a shooting spree last week

Palestinian soccer team Hilal al-Quds poses with a poster hailing Palestinian terrorist Mesbah Abu Sabih, who killed two Israelis in a shooting attack in Jerusalem on October 9, 2016. (Facebook)
Palestinian soccer team Hilal al-Quds poses with a poster hailing Palestinian terrorist Mesbah Abu Sabih, who killed two Israelis in a shooting attack in Jerusalem on October 9, 2016. (Facebook)

Israeli police arrested a Palestinian soccer coach who, along with his team, posed last week with a banner hailing the Palestinian terrorist Mesbah Abu Sabih.

Maher Abu Sanina, a 55 year-old resident of Jerusalem, heads the Jerusalem-based Palestinian soccer team Hilal Al Quds whose members posed for the picture on Tuesday, two days after Abu Sabih killed two Israelis in a shooting spree in the capital before being killed by police.

Abu Sanina was charged with inciting terrorism.

The team, which plays in the West Bank Premier League, posted the photo to its Facebook page on Tuesday. In it, members can be seen smiling on the field at the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in al-Ram in the West Bank while holding up a banner featuring Abu Sabih, the 39-year-old Silwan resident in East Jerusalem, and a former resident of al-Ram, with the words: “The Hilal al-Quds soccer club mourns the loss of the lion of al-Aqsa [Jerusalem], the martyr and hero Mesbah Abu Sabih.”

In his shooting spree on Sunday, Abu Sabih killed Jerusalem resident Levana Malihi, 60, and police officer First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, before he was shot dead in a gun battle with police.

Jerusalem resident Levana Malihi, 60, left, and police officer First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, who were shot dead in a terror attack in Jerusalem, October 9, 2016. (Police spokesperson)
Jerusalem resident Levana Malihi, 60, left, and police officer First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, who were shot dead in a terror attack in Jerusalem, October 9, 2016. (Police spokesperson)

The team also commemorated Abu Sabih with a moment of silence, according to Israeli news site Ynet.

A spokesman for the team, Tamer Obaidat, told Ynet that the banner was brought in by fans of the team who were “outraged” at Abu Sabih’s death, and then circulated the photo on social media. Obaidat said the fans agreed to remove the photo “as it is against FIFA regulations.”

The attack Sunday broke a spell of calm in the capital that followed a near-12-month wave of violence. The majority of the stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks took place in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Officials had feared a return to these types of assaults with the onset of the Jewish holiday season earlier this month.

October 2015 marked the start of several months of near-daily attacks during which at least 34 Israelis and over 200 Palestinians were killed, the majority of them while carrying out attacks, according to Israeli authorities.

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