‘Terrorism, violent pogrom’ – Israeli players, fans attacked at Athens basketball game

“The team won’t ignore these events and a complaint will be filed to FIBA,” HaPoel Jerusalem said in a statement.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

An Israeli basketball team and its fans were targeted with violent antisemitism by rival fans when they played in Greece on Wednesday, team officials confirmed to Hebrew language media.

During a recent away game between basketball teams HaPoel Jerusalem and AEK Athens, Greek fans launched fireworks at Israeli fans and hurled bricks at them, leaving several Israeli spectators injured.

“I saw traumatized mothers trying to protect their children, as huge rocks were thrown at them. This could have ended in disaster,” said Eyal Chomsky, owner of the team, in a video statement posted on Twitter.

“At halftime, I tried to talk with FIBA officials and referees, and understood that the best way to prevent the loss of life in this pogrom, was to keep the game going. The Greek security officials, who were very weak, said that if we stopped the game, Greek fans would come attack the Israeli fans in their section.”

“From the start of the game there was a very hostile atmosphere against the Israelis,” fan Tal Hakim told Kan News. Many Greek fans displayed “Palestinian and Hezbollah flags and attempted to enter our [seating area] and set the Israeli flag on fire,” he continued.

Hakim said that 15 minutes after the game started, Greek fans “threw bricks and rocks at us, and even injured some fans. We were confined to a small area to not get hurt.”

A few minutes after that, he said, “they began to launch fireworks at us and burned the clothes of one of the fans. Everyone was waiting for the game to end so they could get home in one piece.”

In a statement, HaPoel Jerusalem said that the incident was “terrorism in every sense of the word” and charged that Greek security officials not only refused to intervene, but in fact prevented Israeli fans from leaving the arena and fleeing to safety – a version of events supported by eyewitnesses and spectators.

“We explored options to remove Israeli fans at halftime, but Greeks surrounded them and there were fears of a violent pogrom. The team won’t ignore these events and a complaint will be filed to FIBA,” the statement continued.

“There is unprecedented chaos and a failure of security here,” a HaPoel Jerusalem official told Channel 12 News.