Israel Police Detains 16 Soccer Fans Over Attack of Arab Workers in Jerusalem Mall

The Beitar Jerusalem fans are suspected of attacking Arab employees last week; six are to be banned from soccer matches, ten to be remanded and charged with assault.

The Jerusalem Police detained 16 fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer franchise for questioning on Thursday on suspicion of taking part in an attack on Arab employees in Jerusalem’s Malha mall last week.

Ten of the fans were released under restrictive conditions, while the remaining six, one of whom is a minor, are being brought in front of a judge for a remand hearing later on Thursday.

Beitar fans captured on security camera at the Malha shopping mall.

The Jerusalem Police Moriya district is expected to request that a restraining order be placed on the six soccer fans, banning them from visiting soccer games, as well as charges being brought against some of them for assault. The police are still conducting the investigation.

Early last week, the Jerusalem police announced that it would investigate the incident in which hundreds of soccer fans caused public disorder in Jerusalem’s Malha mall, following a match in which the local Beitar Jerusalem soccer club defeated Tel Aviv’s Bnei Yehuda.

After news of the riot was published in Haaretz, the Jerusalem police requested the mall hand over the security footage and investigated the dozens of employees who were victims of the incident.

Initially, the Israel Police’s national command criticized the Jerusalem police’s inaction after the event. The Israel Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, who only found about the incident through the media. stressed that the police could have worked faster to bring those responsible to justice.

“It is possible that in the first few days there was fault in the performance of the police,” Danino said. “We have no intention of giving up. We will get to everyone of those who rioted and broke the law, and will bring him to justice.”

In addition, the police commissioner instructed the Jerusalem police to investigate why the police hadn’t taken action against the rioters in the first place, and why the police top brass wasn’t informed about it.

Two weeks ago, hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem fans assaulted Arab cleaning personnel at the capital's Malha shopping center, in what was said to be one of Jerusalem's biggest-ever ethnic clashes. "It was a mass lynching attempt," said Mohammed Yusuf, a team leader for Or-Orly cleaning services.

Despite CCTV footage of the events, originally no one was arrested. Jerusalem police said that is because no complaint was filed. Witnesses said that after a soccer game in the nearby Teddy Stadium, hundreds of mostly teenage supporters flooded into the shopping center, hurling racial abuse at Arab workers and customers and chanting anti-Arab slogans, and filled the food hall on the second floor.