Members of the Maccabi Haifa soccer team, playing a preseason friendly match in Austria, were attacked on Wednesday by pro-Palestinian Arab protesters.
The protesters, who were holding up Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flags and were reportedly of Turkish origin, stormed the field as the game against the French soccer team Lille was going on. They proceeded to spit at, curse and kick the Israeli players. Some of the players retaliated, leading to a brawl on the field.
No one was injured, and the Haifa players were taken off the field by police officers and instructed to remain in the locker room until things calm down.
Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat reacted to the incident and said, “This is a dangerous and seemingly pre-planned incident, and we must not ignore it.”
Maccabi Haifa said in a statement following the incident, "We experienced an unpleasant experience of violence on the field and in the stands. We as a club call for co-existence and patience but this attack was planned and dangerous in light of the incitement in the Turkish media.”
“We deplore the violence against us, we came to play soccer and we are sorry that this how the game ended, but this did not happen because of the sport and because of soccer, but because we are a group representing Israel.”
There have been several anti-Israel protests in Europe in recent days over the defensive Operation Protective Edge. The most notable protests were in Paris, where far-left and Islamist extremists defied a ban on protests over the conflict between Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza and took to the streets last Saturday.
The protesters wrought havoc in the Barbès in central Paris, confronting police with serious violence.
Rioters have also vandalized several Paris synagogues over the past several weeks, including a firebombing incident in the Val d'Oise area of Paris.
There have also been anti-Israel protests in Berlin, where in one such demonstration, hundreds of protesters chanted in German, “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come on out and fight on your own”.