Tottenham supporters hold an Israeli flag during the Carabao Cup Semi-Final Second Leg match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on January 24, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Authorities in eastern France rescinded a ban they had issued forbidding soccer fans from Israel from flying their country’s flag in the streets of Strasbourg on account of safety concerns.

The prohibitions, which are unusual and provoked vociferous criticism, came in a four-page order Thursday from the head of the Bas-Rhin district office prior to that day’s match in Strasbourg between Maccabi Haifa and RC Strasbourg.

Hours before the match, the office said it was lifting the ban.

The decree, which cited the risk of antisemitic incidents, followed an incident on Wednesday night in which three Israeli soccer fans in town for the match got into a violent altercation with locals. The Israelis escaped without serious injury.

Aliza Binoun, Israel’s ambassador to France, complained to the French government over the ban, she said on Twitter. Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev called it “unbelievable.”

The office then said the ban on flags only applied to the stadium.

On July 11, an Algerian team’s victory in a major match in France resulted in riots across French cities that ended with hundreds of arrests on violent offenses, including injuries to several police officers. Algerian flags were not banned during that match.

Critics of the original Israeli flag ban, including the lawmaker Meyer Habib, decried it as hypocritical and discriminatory.

The Europa League match ended without incident, with a 3-1 loss for Maccabi Haifa.


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