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article imagePalestinian supporters storm pitch, fight with Israeli players

By Dan Pelberg     Jul 25, 2014 in Sports
Bischofshofen - As the conflict in the Middle East rages on, its effects seem to be felt everywhere. Hatred between both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine supporters is becoming more apparent throughout the world.
One of Israel’s top soccer teams, Maccabi Haifa, traveled to Austria for a friendly match on Wednesday against one of France’s top teams, Lille. What they got was quite the opposite of friendly, as pro-Palestinian protesters stormed the field and began to fight with the players of the Israeli squad.
The match was quickly stopped after protesters, who have now been identified as of Turkish decent, ran on to the pitch carrying signs supporting Palestine. Fighting ensued between the rioters and the Haifa players shortly thereafter.
Maccabi Haifa captain Yossi Benayoun defended his team’s choice to fight back, claiming an act of self-defense. “We were attacked by thugs on the pitch simply because we are Israelis,” Benayoun said on Thursday. “We had no choice but to defend ourselves.”
The incident has led to the cancellation of another scheduled match for Maccabi Haifa in Austria against German side Paderborn. The match was to be played on Saturday in the Austrian city of Kirchbichl, however the city has decided that due to its small size it cannot guarantee proper security for the players.
What are possibly even more disconcerting are the comments on the YouTube video of the fighting (see below for video) which now has over 1.5 million views. Extremists have used the video to attack each other with racial slurs and verbal assaults that make the hatred seem all too real. The comments on the video can be seen here. Please be cautioned, there is use of extreme profanity and racial slurs throughout the entire comment section.
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