Police to investigate racist soccer fan riot

Hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem supporters ran amok in a mall last week, accosting Arab workers and damaging property

Police are launching an investigation into last week’s rioting by soccer fans who assaulted Arab patrons and workers at a Jerusalem shopping mall last week.

After a victory by their team at Teddy Stadium, hundreds of supporters of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club flooded the nearby Malha mall last Monday, chanting anti-Arab slogans.

According to witnesses, the mob assaulted three Arab women as well as cleaning personnel who came to their defense.

The mall was reportedly evacuated, but no arrests were made. Police said no one had filed a complaint about the incident, though it was recorded on mall security cameras. A video recording of the incident was uploaded to YouTube the following day.

“I’ve been here for many years, and I’ve never seen such a thing,” Gideon Avrahami, Malha’s executive director, told Haaretz. “It was a disgraceful, shocking, racist incident; simply terrible.”

The team’s management condemned the violence.

Beitar Jerusalem fans have a reputation for racism and anti-Arab violence. It is the only Israeli professional team never to have hired an Arab player and fans often chant anti-Arab epithets during games.

Just over a month ago, fans accosted a bus filled with members of rival Arab-Israeli team Bnei Sakhnin, pelting it with debris and causing damage but no injuries.

The Israeli Soccer League has fined the team and docked points as punishment for fans’ behavior, most recently in April.


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