Soccer fans riot at Malha Mall 370.
(photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)
Police opened an investigation on Sunday after Beitar Jerusalem fans stormed
Malha Mall following a soccer match at Teddy Stadium last week.
300 fans attacked Arab workers while chanting racist fight songs in the food
court on the second floor.
According to the mall’s CCTV footage and
eyewitness accounts, the fans rioted for approximately 40 minutes chanting
“Death to Arabs!” and “Muhammad is dead!” before police and mall security guards
The police were criticized for not making any arrests and
for allowing the riot to continue for so long.
Six days after the event,
on Sunday, police said they opened an investigation. Deputy police spokeswoman
Shlomit Bajshi said the Arab workers refused to file a complaint against the
The attacks happened around 10 on Monday night, after Beitar won
2-1 against Tel Aviv’s Bnei Yehuda.
In the video, fans are seen jumping
around the food court chanting “Hapoel are communists and Arabs are sluts!” and
“I hate all Arabs!” According to reports, fans spat at female Arab workers and
attacked several Arab cleaners.
Beitar Jerusalem spokesman Asaf Shaked
said the club “strongly condemned every incident of violence and racism,” and
stressed that it has been trying to eliminate racist elements from its fan
Because the purported riot occurred outside the confines of Teddy
Stadium, Beitar is likely to avoid sanctions from the Israel Football
Beitar Jerusalem has a history of racist incidents stemming
from overzealous fans, including fight songs with racist overtones and a “Death
to Arabs” chant that appears when there are Arab players on the opposing team.
In March 2010, a group of Beitar fans attacked two Arab janitors at Teddy
Stadium during halftime.
After a game against Bnei Sakhnin last month, a
riot broke out between fans from the two sides, who threw rocks at one another
and at the buses carrying the players. Police arrested 11
Ohad Eyal, the project director for the Kick Racism and Violence
out of Israeli Soccer of the New Israel Fund, called Monday’s events a
“There is a shared interest with security forces, the soccer
teams and soccer fans across the country to uncover people who are trying to
hurt the game,” he said.
Eyal attributed the violence to a larger
societal problem, and said that the country needs to tackle racism as a general
problem and not just a phenomenon of soccer games. His initiative aims to dampen
the racism in sports through educating children and planning friendly matches
between groups of youngsters from across the country.
“We are taking
something that we love, which is sport, and especially soccer, and using it as
something that connects all of us, not something that divides us,” Eyal said.