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By Jack Mendel

Rival football fans in Israel have brawled outside a courthouse dealing with supporters who had stormed a pitch and caused the abandonment of a top-flight derby match.

Video footage from Tel Aviv showed fans flailing wildly on the street and hitting each other with belts and sticks for several minutes.

The skirmish added to outrage in Israel over rising football violence which resulted in the cancelling of a Premier League game between city rivals Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv.

The teams were drawing 1-1 in the first half when a shirtless fan ran on to the field and began hitting and kicking Maccabi midfielder Eran Zehavi.

The two exchanged blows for several moments before security dragged the fan away. The referee then gave Zehavi a red card, sparking a furious reaction from players and fans.

After numerous other supporters ran on to the field and began exchanging blows, the game was abandoned and the players taken off the pitch.

Hapoel’s manager, the former Manchester City and West Ham midfielder Eyal Berkovic, called it a “black day” for Israeli football, adding: “This is not soccer, this is war.”

A special parliamentary committee has convened as a result of the brawl. “What happened was extremely serious and shameful,” Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat said. “It’s a shame there are those who want to turn the field into a battle zone and spoil the principles of Israeli soccer and sport.”

 

 You can watch the video of the skirmish here: