'Death to Reinah's people': Beitar Jerusalem fans burn anti-Arab placard ahead of cup game
Fans of an Israeli football club have burnt a placard adorned with an anti-Arab slogan in Reineh in northern Israel, ahead of a cup match against the Palestinian town's football team on Thursday, Arab48 news reported.
Cameras in the town showed Beitar Jerusalem supporters writing “Death to Reineh’s people. To hell,” before burning the placard and allegedly attempting to set fire to a nearby corner shop.
Beitar Jerusalem, one of Israel's top sides, is well known for its anti-Arab, anti-Muslim bias and for its violent, racist supporters.
The club has never signed a player from the Palestinian community inside Israel, despite it making up around 20 percent of the country’s population.
Over the past decade, two of the top scorers in Israel's Premier League have been Palestinian citizens of Israel - Dia and Ahmed Saba, who both played for Maccabi Netanya.
Anas Reinawi, a resident of Reineh, told Arab48 that he had initially thought the Beitar Jerusalem fans were rubbish collectors.
“I heard noises around 5am… I looked out of my room window and saw a fire near the shops, and four unmasked young men carrying a three-metre-tall placard with writing in Hebrew saying ‘Death to Reinah’s people. To hell’,” Reinawi said.
He shouted at them and called the Israeli police. Reinawi said he thought that the fans probably did not come from Jerusalem itself, but were supporters of Beitar Jerusalem from a nearby Israeli town.
'I hate all Arabs'
Maccabi Bnei Raina, Reineh's football club, which competes in Israel’s second division, is due to play an away match against Beitar Jerusalem on Thursday evening as part of the State Cup of Israel tournament.
Beitar, who play in black and yellow stripes at West Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, is one of Israel's biggest football clubs, having won six league championships and seven cup titles in their 76-year history.
The club's hardcore fan base, known as La Familia, are notoriously abusive towards opposing players, routinely taunting them with racist and anti-Arab chants.
Fans of the club have been seen flying giant banners at their home ground depicting a man carrying a gun and emblazoned with the words "WAR!" and "La Familia".
In 2013, the club's offices were torched over the signing of two Muslim football players from Chechnya - Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev.
The club has also been penalised several times for incidents including booing during a moment of silence for the murdered former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, singing songs deriding the Prophet Muhammad, and physically assaulting Arab maintenance workers in stadiums.
The club has historic political ties to the ruling right-wing Likud Party.
In June 2018, Miri Regev, Israel’s culture and sports minister and a member of Likud, released footage of herself next to Beitar fans as they chanted: “May your village be burned,” “I hate all Arabs,” and “Muhammad is dead.”
Two months later, in August 2018, technology entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg bought the club, promising to change its culture.