Testimonies and videos of police violence directed at Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer fans surfaced on Tuesday, following the Red’s away game on Monday against Maccabi Haifa.
Videos showed dozens of police officers entering the Hapoel Tel Aviv grandstand and using excessive violence to rebuff fans after they had begun to uproot their seats and throw them and other items at Haifa’s fans. Officers also pushed and beat fans outside of the stadium, eyewitnesses said.
לא שימוש ברוגלות ולא שחיתות. הבעיה מספר 1 של המשטרה הייתה ונותרה אלימות שוטרים. אתמול זה היה הפועל, שלשום מכבי, לפני זה בית"ר. רוצים להחזיר את האמון בכם? תתחילו בלהפסיק להרביץ לאוהדי כדורגל. אנשים לא אמורים לפחד להגיע למגרשים בגלל המשטרה https://t.co/VprNIIlpdY— Josh Breiner (@JoshBreiner) February 22, 2022
In one case, a police officer allegedly pinned a 17-year-old boy to the ground by pressing his knee into the boy’s neck while seven others kicked him repeatedly. The boy said as police pushed fans out of the stadium, he noticed a father with his three children being shoved and warned a police officer.
“Within seconds, I was on the ground, surrounded by some 20 police officers who were blocking people from filming the incident,” he told Walla Sport. “Within [the circle there were] another seven or eight [officers] who only cared about who could kick me hardest in the head.”
On Tuesday, Hapoel Tel Aviv said: “The Hapoel Tel Aviv Soccer Club strongly condemns the police violence directed at its fans at Sami Ofer Stadium yesterday, which shocked us. We call on the public security minister, sports minister, league directorates and the Soccer Association to act against the police officers who vigorously beat soccer fans without distinction or mercy in a grandstand they were supposed to enter in the first place.
“This is not the first time that the Israel Police acted with extreme violence toward soccer fans in general and Hapoel Tel Aviv fans in particular. It seems that someone from the police ‘prepared’ the officers in advance, and their whole conduct toward the fans, from the very beginning, was disgraceful, to say the least.
“The club will turn to the Police Investigations Department and all the relevant bodies to prosecute those who call themselves law enforcement but yesterday broke the law over and over again while horrifying the fans, women, men, adults, teens and children alike,” the club said.
In response, the Israel Police said: “During yesterday’s match at Sami Ofer, dozens of fans began to uproot seats and throw them toward the field and at the opposing team’s fans. The officers were forced to arrest the suspects, while at the same time, more fans continued the acts of vandalism, harming the opposing team’s fans, staff members and police officers at the site.
“Notably, two suspects were arrested for throwing objects and attacking police officers. They were interrogated and released on certain conditions, such as expulsion from soccer stadiums. We condemn violence and bullying of any sort on soccer fields and near them, and specifically violence toward police forces. We will continue to act against anyone who disturbs public order and tries to harm police officers at sports events or in any other place.”
Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Kobi Shabtai on Tuesday said he had designated head of operations Asst.-Ch. Sigal Bar Tzvi to investigate the incident and other incidents of violence at soccer games in recent weeks.