Over a week after the violent incident in which fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team ran amok in the Malha mall, accused of physically assaulting Arab workers in the mall, one of the workers provides a firsthand account of what occurred that night.
“I’ve been working here for a year and a half, and my brother for two years,” said N., 20 years old, an East Jerusalem resident. “We’re used to the Beitar fans coming to the mall after the games, singing and getting wild, but we’ve never seen anything like what happened last week. That was the worst.”
The prohibition placed upon mall custodians against speaking to the press does not apply to N., as he works for one of the fast food restaurants, in the area of the mall in which the commotion started. He should not have been exposed to the wild mob, as he is usually working in the rear part of the restaurant. However when his brother, A., 21 years old, a mall custodian was attacked by the mob, N. rushed to his brother’s defense.
“My brother works near the bathrooms and wasn’t bothering anyone,” explained N. “The Beitar fans arrived and began to sing, to jump on tables, and shouted ‘death to Arabs.’ My brother wasn’t involved, he was off to the side, working. Suddenly some of the fans approached him and began to curse at him, and when he responded they jumped him and started to punch and kick him.”
According to N., he didn’t know that his brother was attacked until he walked past the incident on his way to the bathroom, and noticed his brother involved in the altercation. “That’s my brother, you wouldn’t try to save your brother?” asked N. The attempt to save his brother earned him punches to the face, as well as other blows on all parts of his body.
“One of them grabbed me, and didn’t let me move while the others hit me. I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t have a chance.” A few long minutes later, mall security guards were able to rescue N. and his brother from the angry fans. “The police said that from now on, they will send a force here every time there is a Beitar match, if that doesn’t happen, I’m afraid we’ll get beaten up again.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat invited the workers who were attacked to his office last night, and called for the attackers to be brought to justice. “This violence does not characterize the majority of Beitar fans, and they should be ashamed of their behavior,” said Barkat. He continued, “We must preserve coexistence in the city.”
A protest is expected to take place in the mall on Wednesday night, advertised as against “racism and violence in the mall,” and organized by the organization “Tag Meir” – Hebrew for "Light Tag," a play on so-called "price tag" attacks against Palestinians.
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