Jan 7, 2009 0:53 | Updated Jan 7, 2009 2:07
Terror in Turkey for Bnei Hasharon
By ALLON SINAI
Bnei Hasharon experienced two hours of terror in Ankara on Tuesday evening.
Moments before the tip-off of the Israeli team's Eurocup encounter against Turk Telekom some 3,000 Turkish fans shouted 'Allah Akbar' and, by some accounts, 'death to the Jews' in protest against the IDF's actions in Gaza.
Other fans threw bottles at the Israeli players and stormed the court, forcing the Israelis to flee for the dressing rooms.
The players and staff were only able to leave for their hotel thanks to a massive police escort after being stranded for two long hours in the locker room.
Bnei Hasharon chairman Eldad Akunis described the terrifying moments.
"We arrived at the arena under heavy security. There were 1,500 policemen in the arena, 500 of them in plain clothes. The fans waved Palestinian flags and shouted abuse towards Israel," Akunis said.
"As the game was set to begin they stormed the court and we raced towards the dressing rooms. Our players are in shock and all we want at the moment is to return back home."
Team captain Meir Tapiro said only the police's intervention prevented the players from being attacked.
"The fans raced on to the court and ran towards us like madmen, but the police stopped them. It was really scary," he said.
Amazingly, the game referee demanded that Bnei Hasharon play after all the supporters were cleared from the arena, but the team refused and is set to receive a technical loss.
"After a delay due to on-court disturbances before the game, the Turk Telekom vs Bnei Hasharon game was not played due to BneiÂ´s refusal to play despite clearing the arena of fans," a ULEB press release read.
"The situation will be reviewed by the disciplinary judge to give the final ruling. Under league rules the refusal to play a game by a team can be sanctioned and the game can be given to the opposing team 20-0."
Earlier, a pro-Islamic group earlier set an Israeli flag on fire outside the arena.
Turkey has harshly criticized Israel over the ground offensive in Gaza and has urged an immediate cease-fire. It has also called on the United Nations to take steps to end the violence.
AP contributed to this report.