Video Debunks Beitar Lynching Charge
Police released on Tuesday a video of a brawl between a group of Jewish soccer fans and Arab workers in the Malha Mall.
The video clearly contradicted reports in Israel's media – and statements by senior security officials – that Jewish fans of the Beitar soccer club attempted to lynch three Arab workers at the mall last week.
Instead, the video shows three Arab cleaners take up sticks and began chasing a crowd of soccer fans after a verbal confrontation.
A spokesman for Israel Police Commissioner Yochanan Danino said, "a few dozen Beitar fans entered the Malha Mall after leaving the Teddy Stadium and started chanting racist slogans at the Arab cleaners."
A "fight broke out between the parties," the spokesman laconically added. "Three Arab workers took sticks and began to chase after dozens Beitar fans – who fled to other floors and exited the mall."
"Mall security guards intervened, seized the Arab workers, and held them back," they added.
Police say nothing in the video, or in the interviews conducted by investigators, indicated anything akin to a "lynching" or "progrom" of the Arabs had taken place.
Nonetheless, Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch last week blasted police saying they should have shown more determination "after Arabs were assaulted" in the Malha Mall last week.
According to Aharonovich, the "lack of decisiveness" and "slow response" shown by police was "unacceptable."
However, police on Tuesday shot back saying, "Police officers, including the Special Patrol Unit, arrived only four minutes after mall security called for help, but those responsible had already departed."
"The security tapes allowed investigators to identify dozens of Beitar fans involved in the incident. About 20 of them have been banned from the mall," police said, adding, "We also questioned the Arabs who were involved in the incident under caution."
"Police regret that certain media outlets and interested parties vilified our handling of this matter, claiming we allowed a 'progrom' and 'lynch' to take place," Danino's spokesman said.
"The video proves that is not the case,” they said.