A pitch invasion by pro-Palestinian demonstrators caused the abandonment of a friendly between the Israeli team Maccabi Haifa and the French side Lille.
The match, which took place in Bischofshofen, Austria, was interrupted without about five minutes remaining when protesters entered the pitch. There were brief scuffles, but nobody was injured, and the game was abandoned shortly after the incident.
The Jerusalem Post reported that “punches and profanities were exchanged between the handful of youngsters, who waved Palestinian and Turkish flags throughout the match, and the Haifa players, who were mainly stunned by the scenes”.
Israel launched a military offensive on 8 July, against Gaza.
At least 649 Palestinians and 32 Israeli soldiers, have been killed in the past 15 days of fighting, officials say.
In a statement on the club’s official website, Maccabi said: “Maccabi Haifa is a club that stands for co-existence, tolerance and no violence.
“We condemn the violence that was exercised towards us, we came to play soccer and we regret the way the game ended, but these things occurred not due to sports and soccer but
“To a practice game against the French team, LOSC Lille, arrived fifty immigrants approximately with Palestinian flags to demonstrate against the team.
“During most parts of the game this crowd cursed and swore, but the team’s management and players ignored it and made no contact or any provocation.
“Six minutes to the end of the game some of these immigrants, who carried Turkish flags and signs against Israel, burst on to the field and attacked the players Dekel Keinan and Idan Vered.
“The players protected themselves and only then the police intervened and stopped the event. While walking to the dressing room the demonstrators threw stones, but except for some minor injuries Maccabi Haifa’s players, professional team and management are safe and sound.
“We condemn the violence exercised against us, we came to play soccer and we regret the way the game ended, but these things occurred not due to sports and soccer but because we are a team that represents Israel.”