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Israel charges 19 far-right football fans with attempted murder

AFPAFP 7/08/2016
Beitar Jerusalem is the only club in the Israeli league that has never had an Arab player © Provided by AFP Beitar Jerusalem is the only club in the Israeli league that has never had an Arab player

Israel on Sunday charged nineteen members of La Familia, a group of far-right football fans of Beitar Jerusalem, with attempted murder, the police said.

The supporters, who were arrested last month, faced charges including "attempted murder", "aggravated sabotage", "racist offences" and "illegal possession of weapons", the police said in a statement.

They were charged over violence that included attacks on the supporters of rival football teams, it said, adding the prosecutor asked for them to remain in custody until the end of the case against them.

Nine of them were also charged with "drug trafficking".

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. Police regularly have to deploy reinforcements during matches to prevent violence.

On August 18, French club Saint-Etienne will visit the stadium to play Beitar as part of the 2016 Europa League.

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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