(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
"We are moving from incident to incident, from difficult to severe," Culture, Science and Sports Minister Ghaleb Majadle told Army Radio Monday morning, referring to a tragic event that took place in Malha Arena Sunday evening, in which a security guard lost three fingers when a firecracker was thrown onto the floor during a basketball match between Hapoel Holon and Hapoel Jerusalem.
"This has to bring about a state of emergency, with the implications this has. We need to treat [such incidents] without mercy and immediately. We should not aim to educate, but to punish and punish strongly, even to the point of ousting a club from the league."
During the match, with a minute and a half remaining in the contest, a fan standing above the Amir section in Malha threw the fire cracker onto the floor, prompting the guard to run, scoop up the explosive and jump on it to absorb the blast in front of the Holon bench.
The explosion was heard throughout the hall and chaos erupted as players, fans and security personnel ran in every direction. MDA personnel ran to the scene within seconds and quickly tended to the injured, which included fans.
Police arrested four Hapoel Holon fans Monday morning on suspicion of involvement in the incident and, after a nine-hour operation, the guard's fingers were reattached.
Jerusalem forward, Jamie Arnold, speaking to The Jerusalem Post said about the security guard's bravery, "I really appreciate it. Not only did he do his job, he sacrificed himself for all of us." "This is something extremely serious that has never happened in a basketball arena before," BSL chairman Avner Kopel said. "We will work vigorously to tackle this matter. I thought that this kind of thing can only happen on a soccer field, but obviously I was wrong. We pay the police a lot of money so these things won't occur and they should be responsible for what happened."
"The firecracker could have killed someone. I will leave Hapoel Holon and retire from coaching if the BSL and the police don't investigate this matter within the next three days," Holon owner and coach Miki Dorsman said. "I feel like somebody stabbed me in the heart. The security guard tried to save our lives and I thank god that he only injured his hand. This must be stopped or somebody will die."