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November 12, 2012 10:21 pm

Police Mull Israeli Flag Ban at Beitar Jerusalem Soccer Match

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Betar Jerusalem fans. Photo: Screenshot.

There’s certainly no love lost between the fans of the soccer teams Beitar Jerusalem and Bnei Sakhnin FC. The former has a fiercely loyal pro-Israel fan base , while the latter team, which is based in Sakhnin, an Arab-Israeli town in northern Israel, has fans who wave the Palestinian flag at home games. This prompted Israeli police to ban Beitar Jerusalem’s fans from bringing Israeli flags to Sakhnin’s home turf, Doha stadium, for a game between the two teams this past Saturday. The ban was challenged, however, by among others, Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari (Ichud Le’umi-National Union) and parliamentary aides Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel, who last week informed the Sakhnin police that they intended to bring Israeli flags to the game.

Ben Ari was even quoted by Arutz Sheva as saying, “It’s time to put the Sakhnin fans in their place. We’ll go to the stadium in Sakhnin to deliver the message that the state of Israel is the boss.”

The police eventually caved, and allowed fans to bring the Israeli flag. And despite some pregame theatrics that saw delays because of overcrowding at the entry gates, those in the stands were mostly behaved, flag-waving and all. The same can’t be said of the players, who, after the game, which ended in a 1-1 draw, had a bit of a tiff in the locker room.

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