Police thwart plot to sabotage TA game

13 Hapoel Holon fans planned to throw 600 firecrackers at tonight's basketball game.

Hapoel firecracker 224.8 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel firecracker 224.8
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Tel Aviv police announced Sunday that they had managed to seize a massive arsenal of explosives that Hapoel Holon fans planned to detonate during Sunday night's Hapoel Jerusalem-Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball game at Tel Aviv's Nokia Arena. Police confiscated more than 600 firecrackers from the fans, along with detonators and other explosive materials, after detectives from the Shechunot Precinct raided a number of houses in the center of the country. The suspects, all Hapoel Holon fans, allegedly had planned to sabotage the game by employing their wide arsenal of weapons. The plan, police said, called for the fans to disguise themselves as Hapoel Jerusalem supporters and to throw the explosives onto the court, stopping the game and likely leading to both injury and panic among attendees and players. The alleged plot came a week after a firecracker thrown by a Hapoel Holon fan blew three fingers off a guard at a Jerusalem basketball game between the Holon team and Hapoel Jerusalem. Four people were arrested in that incident, which grabbed headlines and led many to demand that Hapoel Holon's fans be punished as a whole for the attack. It seemed likely that Sunday's plot was related to last week's violence. Police, acting on intelligence information that they had received, targeted 13 houses in the raid, including those of a 12-year-old fan and a 17-year-old fan. A total of 14 people were arrested, 12 of whom were adults between the ages of 18 and 35. In addition to the explosives, police found five grams of cocaine and hashish, as well as stolen phones, DVD players, and Sony Playstations. All of the suspects were arrested and taken for questioning by Shechunot detectives. Later in the evening, using intelligence information received from the Jerusalem police, detectives from the Shechunot Station arrested another Holon resident who allegedly also plotted mayhem for the stadium Sunday evening. Police said that the 21-year-old handed over explosive powder and a Hapoel Jerusalem t-shirt to an undercover cop posing as a sports fan. Police said that the suspect instructed the undercover cop to enter the basketball stadium dressed up as a Hapoel Jerusalem fan and to throw the powder on the court. The suspect was taken into police custody for further questioning, and police would not say whether he was part of the ring arrested Sunday morning or acted independently.