Police detain 16 Betar fans from anti-Arab riot

Public security minister says police reaction to attacks on Arab cleaners was unmotivated and unacceptable, must be probed.

March 29, 2012 17:30
1 minute read.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch.

Aharonovitch_311 reuters. (photo credit: Ammar Awad / Reuters)


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Jerusalem police detained 16 Betar Jerusalem fans over the past few days in connection with a racist riot at the Malha Mall last Monday.

Ten of the suspects were released on condition by the police commander and the remaining six suspects, five youths and one adult, were brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Thursday afternoon.

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Anti-racism demo at Malha Mall (Marc Israel Sellem)

The judge accepted the police’s recommendations to forbid the suspects from attending any soccer games for the remainder of this season as well as the next two seasons. Additionally, the suspects will have to pay a guarantee of NIS 3,500 against future offenses. Next week, police will most likely recommend the indictment of the six suspects for chanting racist statements and physically attacking Arab cleaners in the mall.

City Councilor Elisha Peleg, who holds the sport and security portfolios, admitted that the city’s efforts at eradicating racism among younger fans through education and workshops has been unsuccessful.

“We are really trying with education and we’re hoping that these phenomenon won’t happen but we can’t predict them beforehand,” he said.

On Wednesday night, more than 150 people gathered at the Malha mall at an anti-racism demonstration organized by the “Tag Meir” (Bright Tag) forum, which is dedicated to stopping racism and sexism.

“It’s important to have tolerance in Jerusalem, it’s embarrassing what happened in the mall,” said Stacey Blank, a mother of two, at the protest on Wednesday. “When they behave like this, it’s a way of giving them permission.”

On Thursday, the Coalition Against Racism in Israel slammed the Jerusalem police’s slow reaction to the riot and accused them of only opening an investigation after widespread public outcry in the media. Police said that they did not pursue the matter because by the time officers arrived on the scene the rioters had dispersed, and none of the Arab cleaners wanted to file a complaint.

“The Israel police’s refusal to open an investigation without a complaint being filed by one of the people involved is outrageous and sinful, and is part of the duties and role of the police,” the organization wrote in a letter to the police.

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