The Junior Fencing World Cup in Burgos, Spain turned into a political arena this past weekend when 12 pro-Palestinian protestors stormed the bleachers during a match between Israel
and Spain, shouting anti-Israeli slogans and wielding anti-Israel signs.
The protestors yelled "Killers of Palestinians" at the young fencers, and their signs called for a boycott of Israel.
"It was very scary," said Israeli coach Yaakov Brusovnick, whose trainee Irina Levin was competing when the protest broke out. "They tried to destroy the competition and started to descend towards the area of the match, while Irina was in the track closest to the bleachers."
Brusovnick, a veteran coach who has several fencing titles under his belt, has never experienced a similar event. "I have been coaching in Israel for two years, and it's the first time that this has happened," he said. "The judge immediately stopped the match, and different coaches from different countries began to confront the protestors in an attempt to remove them from the hall."
Two days later, 17-year-old Levin still sounded distraught while trying to recap the event in a phone interview. "I was in the middle of the match in the first level when I heard someone shouting 'Israel, Israel,'" she told Ynet. "I asked myself, who came to cheer for me? Suddenly I turn my head and see a giant Palestinian flag, and people waving signs."
Levin added that the team has undergone safety training and was told to keep their distance, and yet the incident was unexpected.
"There was a Star of David on my suit, and everything was directed at me and at Israel," she continued. "I immediately stopped the fight and the judge didn't know how to react. The Spanish rival's coach went up and tore their sign, and ran away because they wanted to attack him. I was shaking during the entire competition and everyone tried to calm me down."
Levin said that police officers secured the hall for the duration of the competition following the incident, but even with their presence she was still afraid.
"I was looking around me all the time, I was very scared," she said. "You don't know if they will come back, or if they will come to my hotel. It really scared me. They had fire in their eyes."