Israel arrests 56 far-right football supporters

Jerusalem (AFP) – Israel has arrested 56 members of La Familia, a group of far-right football fans of the Beitar Jerusalem team over “violence and weapon smuggling”, the police said on Tuesday.

“The arrests, carried out overnight Monday to Tuesday, were decided after acts of violence were committed by members of La Familia across the country,” the police said in a statement.

The ultra-nationalist Jewish members of La Familia, believed to number several hundred, are known for their racist, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments.

The Jerusalem stadium where their club plays is dubbed “Hell” over its climate of hostility towards visiting teams and their supporters, with the police often deploying reinforcements during matches to try to prevent violence.

The arrested supporters were accused of “taking part in serious acts of violence, weapon smuggling and entering stadiums with forbidden pyrotechnical devices”, the police said, adding they were detained after they received information from an informant in the far-right group.

Around 400 policemen and border guards took part in the arrests, which could continue in the coming days, the police added.

Beitar Jerusalem is the only club in the Israeli league that has never had an Arab player.

In 2013, some Beitar supporters were angered by the signing of two Muslim players from Chechnya, forcing the team to hire bodyguards to protect them.

Club offices were later hit by arson that destroyed all the trophies won by the team.

 

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