Turkish fans threw objects at members of the Israeli women’s national basketball team Saturday at the start of a game in the qualifying round for the 2017 EuroBasket tournament.
In a video, members of the Israeli team can be seen standing and singing along as Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikva,” is played in the background at the start of the game. All of a sudden, Turkish fans begin throwing objects at the Israelis, who quickly move out of the way to dodge them.
Security personnel quickly responded, and no one was hurt. Some fans also booed the Israelis, while others applauded the fans who threw the objects.
In another incident at the beginning of the game, fans waving Palestinian flags were ejected by security.
The Turkish women’s national team beat Israel 72-53, in the first of a series of qualifiers for the 2017 European championship. The Israeli team’s next game is set for Wednesday against Romania.
Turkish officials reportedly took extreme precautions with the game, posting some 1,500 police and guards to prevent incidents. Israel’s Sport 5 channel reported that, due to concerns for their safety, team members were barred from leaving their hotel, other than for training and the game itself. At the end of the game, the players split up and traveled back to the hotel in separate cars, rather than in a team bus as usual, the report said.
“This was a complex experience with a hostile arena,” Eden Inbar, the team’s coach, told Sport 5. “We played against a good team, I’m proud of the stand that we made, and Wednesday [against Romania] will be our real game.”
Last week, Turkish soccer fans booed during a moment of silence for the victims of the November 13 Paris terror attacks at the start of a friendly match with Greece in Istanbul. Although many took it as a sign of disrespect against the victims of the attacks, some Turkish commentators called the boos a protest against Western hypocrisy over attacks in Ankara in October, which killed over 100 and for which international moments of silence were not held.
In light of the events in Ankara, MK Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu faction and a former foreign minister, called on the Foreign Ministry to file an official protest to Turkey. He also called for the Sports and Culture Ministry to demand that the International Basketball Federation sanction the Turkish national team and the Turkish Basketball Federation.