19 Die-hard Fans of Jerusalem Soccer Team Charged: 'Anarchist, Racist Ideology'

Alleged offenses against members of Beitar Jerusalem's La Familia include attempted murder, racist acts and illegal possession weapons. Prosecution seeks their detention until the end of criminal proceedings.

Defendants in the La Familia case in Tel Aviv District Court, August 7, 2016.
Moti Milrod

Nineteen members of the extremist La Familia soccer fan club were indicted Sunday in Tel Aviv District Court on offenses including attempted murder, aggravated intentional destruction, aggravated robbery, racist acts, weapons charges and other offenses related to fan violence. The club supports the Beitar Jerusalem team.

The indictment alleges that La Familia's aim is "to sow violence and vandalism based on an anarchist and racist ideology of hate for the Arab sector, on the soccer field, at various sports events and against the fans of rival teams." The charges include the attempted murder in 2015 of a fan of the rival Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer team.

The indictment makes specific reference to the La Familia slogan "Beitar forever pure," calling it racist, and cites the lyrics of the La Familia club song, which refers to "the strongest army," which "will protect you and wipe anyone standing in its way off the face of the earth, a cruel and racist guerilla army."

The indictment seeks the continued detention of the 19 defendants until the end of the criminal proceedings against them. Others who were detained for questioning and released are also expected to be indicted in the coming weeks over alleged offenses against fans from rival teams.

About 60 suspects allegedly associated with La Familia were picked up for questioning about two weeks ago, but most were subsequently released. The round of arrests came after a club member turned state's witness and worked undercover for about four months with a group of La Familia fans called "Hakometz" ("The Few"). Information from the witness also resulted in the indictment of nine defendants on drug trafficking charges.

The wave of arrests yielded the discovery of 20 stun grenades, a kilogram of explosives material, gas and smoke grenades, makeshift chemical grenades and 29 flares, among other items.

Itamar Ben Gvir, a lawyer representing one of the defendants, accused the prosecution of seeking to persecute Beitar Jerusalem fans and of filing charges "that are in no way appropriate to the event that took place," a reference to a clash with Hapoel Tel Aviv fans, whom Ben Gvir said came planning for a fight.