Last updated: 28 March, 2012

Israelis protest racist football attack in Jerusalem

More than 100 Jewish activists gathered at a Jerusalem shopping centre on Wednesday night to protest at an attack by Jewish football fans on Israeli Arabs last week.

Members of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Israeli Conservative (Masorti) Movement and other groups stood outside the Malcha mall, holding signs in English, Hebrew and Arabic condemning the attack.

Supporters of Beitar Jerusalem football club assaulted Arab employees at the Malcha mall and chanted “death to Arabs” during the attack, according to media reports.

Protesters told AFP “if things had happened the other way around,” that Arabs attacked Jews, “hundreds would have been in prison.”

The activists then entered the shopping centre and handed out flowers to Arab labourers.

Police on Sunday said they have launched an investigation based on CCTV footage.

The incident was first reported by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which said “hundreds” of Beitar Jerusalem fans had crowded into the mall after a match at a nearby stadium.

The newspaper said the fans spat on several Arab women sitting nearby with their children. When Arab employees at the mall tried to intervene, the fans assaulted them, Haaretz said.

Police said no investigation was opened at the time because no complaint was filed.

Fans of Beitar Jerusalem, which has never had an Arab player, have long been associated with anti-Arab racism, and the team has been sanctioned in the past for the behaviour of its supporters.