Police release Malha mall video, downplaying anti-Arab fan violence
Police claims events were much less serious than reported in the media.
Jerusalem police released a short film clip in an attempt to downplay the events at the Malha Mall in Jerusalem two weeks ago, in which hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem fans allegedly assaulted Arab cleaning personnel after a soccer game in the nearby Teddy Stadium.
Police accused a number of press outlets of falsely defaming them, saying, "Their claims are that [the police] allowed a pogrom and lynch that turned out not to have happened."
The press originally leveled harsh criticism against the Jerusalem police's handling of the matter, as the police only opened an official investigation a week after the events - and after the press reported the matter extensively.
The police claimed on Tuesday that the events were much less serious than reported in the media, despite the reports of eye witnesses. However, the lack of broad coverage by the security cameras makes it difficult to see what happened in large sections of the mall. In any case, the clip released by the police covers only about a minute of the half hour of events.
The police released a short clip of the tape, captured by the mall's security cameras. The one-minute clip shows the start of the scuffle.
The tape first shows Beitar fans crowding into the fast food court of the mall. Then one of the Arab employees appears in front of them holding what appears to be a broom handle, waving it threateningly at the fans.
At this stage, the fans on the tape appear to spill out in every direction, but then the police's clip is cut off and shows the same event from two other camera angles. The police tape does not show what happens next. Witnesses said that after the fans first fled, they turned back and started chasing the Arab workers.
None of this appears in the tape released by the police released on Tuesday.
The clip then jumps forward a few minutes to the point where mall security guards appear to be handling the three Arab workers who were apparently waving the broom handles, and removing them from the scene.
The mall was closed about 15 minutes after the fans were dispersed.
The police said that, contrary to media reports, large forces reached reached the mall quickly after being alerted by the mall's security staff. At this point, most of the fans left the mall, according to the police, which made it difficult to evaluate the situation and decide whether to open an investigation.
But the mall's security department contradicted the police statements. "It took the police 40 minutes to arrive and disperse the rioting fans," said one member of the security staff last week. If they didn't know how serious the situation was, why did they send such a large force, he asked.
Last week, the police detained 16 Beitar fans suspected of disturbing the peace in the mall.
Ten of the fans were released under restrictive conditions, while the remaining six, one of whom is a minor, were banned from the team's soccer games for the next two seasons.
The police said the investigation was continuing and further arrests are expected.