New Round of Israeli Soccer-related Violence Leaves Haifa Star in Hospital

Hapoel Haifa star is hit in the face and reportedly knocked out during a melee that followed the final whistle of a soccer match against Maccabi Petah Tikva.

Hapoel Haifa’s Ali Khatib was hit in the face on Saturday night during a melee that followed the final whistle of a soccer match against Maccabi Petah Tikva.

Khatib was reportedly knocked out by the blow and was treated by Magen David Adom medics before being taken to a nearby hospital. Several players reported seeing someone with a Maccabi Petah Tikva ID badge head-butting Khatib, dislodging several teeth in the process.

Soccer brawl - Kobi Eliyahu - April 2012
Kobi Eliyahu

Other eyewitnesses, along with footage taken by a television crew, revealed that the attackers were Maccabi Petah Tikva’s goalie trainer Ami Ganish and team official Yigal Meman.

The clash erupted after Petah Tikva scored a dramatic goal in the 94th minute. Players confronted each other while scores of fans and team officials from both sides of the aisle ran onto the field to join the brawl.

Petah Tikva police reported that they have identified two suspects in the attack on Khatib, and that they will both receive orders to report to the police station.

The brawl comes a little over a week after hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem fans assaulted Arab cleaning personnel at the capital's Malha shopping center on Monday, in what was said to be one of Jerusalem's biggest-ever ethnic clashes.

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.

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.

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