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MK Ahmad Tibi Photo: Avihu Shapira
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Tibi: Beitar riots – unprecedented pogrom

In response to riots that broke out between Beitar soccer fans, Arab employees at Malcha Mall, Arab MK says fans 'like KKK'; angered by lack of police reaction

Gilad Schubert
Published: 03.25.12, 14:33 / Israel Culture

Fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team have been receiving compliments from team members over the improvement in their behavior at recent matches, yet off the pitch a completely different picture emerges.

 

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Last Monday, after a victorious game against the Bnei Yehuda team, fans were involved in a serious incident when they had a brawl with Arab employees at the Malcha Mall in the city.

 

However, as of now no complaint has been filed against any of the people involved. Jerusalem police, who, on Sunday received the mall's security camera footage, finally announced they would launch an investigation in an effort to trace the assaulting fans.

 

Police also stressed that officers arrived at the scene four minutes after the call from the mall, however a source within the mall has contradicted police claims: "The police, maybe out of laziness, sent two female officers in a police car and they didn't really know what to do when confronted with the scores of rioters, even though they (police) were told the brawl included a large number of rioters.

 

 Beitar fans sing racist chants at Malcha Mall

 

"Only 40 minutes after the riot commenced did police forces start streaming in, but by that stage a dozen of Arab employees had already sustained injuries that did not require them to be transferred to a hospital for further medical care.

 

"I am aware of the claim that they refused to press charges, yet the police could have, and should have launched an investigation merely based on the fact that an offence had been committed and that security footage was available to them the whole time."

 

It is believed that last Monday at 10 pm, several hundred Beitar fans arrived at the mall's food court to celebrate the recent victory. Things heated up when a number of Arab employees arrived, leading to the outbreak of a massive brawl.

 

Beitar fans claim the employees were the first to attack, before the racist remarks were made, while passersby claim the Arab employees told off the fans after they made the racist remarks.

 

One eye-witness told Ynet: "The mall employees had no small part in the affair. Beitar fans did stand on the sidelines and call out 'death to Arabs,' but their (the Arabs) response was to come out with bats and chase after the fans, attacking them while screaming in Hebrew that they would kill them. That could be the reason they chose not to press charges."

 

Jerusalem police stated: "There was a brawl at the Malcha mall and police have launched an inquiry with the hopes of contacting the brawl participants."

 

As for the question of why arrests weren't made at the scene, they noted: "When police arrived at the scene there was no sign of a brawl and so arrests could not be made. We are taking this matter seriously and will handle it with resolve."

 

Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al), who sought to convene the Education and Sports Committee to discuss the affair which he called a "Pogrom" does not understand why the incident was not handled more speedily and why no complaints were filed.

 

"The fact that no complaints were filed is puzzling and is part of the capitulation in the face of racism," said Tibi. "Besides, the fact that police did not carry out any arrests even after they arrived at the scene and viewed the security footage encourages the rioters.

 

"Apparently, the media and Football Association are continuing in their flimsy response to KKK Beitar hooligans."

 

"This is an unprecedented pogrom," Tibi continued. "I wonder at the fact that police made no arrests. I believe that if it was the other way around then the headlines would cry out... and dozens of fans would be arrested by police special forces."

 

Yair Altman and Shai Artzi contributed to the report

 

 

 

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