Soccer Player Stabbed As Hundreds Require Treatment During New Year’s Eve

Athlete, who plays in Israel’s top league, hospitalized in moderate condition; 17 others injured in violent incidents, 68 treated for alcohol consumption

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The scene of a stabbing in which a soccer player was injured in Ashdod, January 1, 2019. (Magen David Adom)
The scene of a stabbing in which a soccer player was injured in Ashdod, January 1, 2019. (Magen David Adom)

Hundreds of Israelis required medical treatment during the night as they celebrated New Year’s Eve, including a soccer player who plays in the country’s top league.

The 24-year-old athlete, who wasn’t named in media reports, was moderately injured after he was stabbed in his limbs in the southern city of Ashdod early Tuesday morning, the Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance service said.

He was taken to the city’s Assuta hospital. The details of the incidents are being investigated.

Israelis joined in the worldwide party that celebrated the arrival of 2019 as the clock struck midnight on Tuesday, with thousands taking to bars and parties to celebrate.

Extra police were deployed ahead of the celebrations to try and keep matters under control and, in particular, to prevent drunk driving and the sale of alcohol to under-aged drinkers. MDA also deployed additional units across the country and published guidelines for safe drinking.

In total, 18 people were wounded during the night in violent incidents throughout the country, and some of them were taken to hospitals to receive treatment, MDA said in a statement on Tuesday morning.

Fireworks explode over Jerusalem’s Old City and the Dome of the Rock mosque during New Year celebrations, on January 1, 2019. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

It said that 68 people were treated for excessive alcohol consumption, including ten who had passed out. Seven people were lightly injured in car accidents.

Not all calls to the emergency service were negative, however, as nine women were taken to hospitals to give birth during the night.

Israelis call New Year’s Eve Sylvester — a term also used in some European countries, which refers to fourth-century Pope Sylvester I who died on December 31.

Although many Israelis mark the arrival of the New Year, it is a much lower key event than in Western countries and there is no local equivalent to the dropping of the ball in Times Square or the fantastic fireworks displays in capitals around the world. January 1 is not a public holiday, and business is as usual in the work place.

Many of Israel’s 1.6 million immigrants from the former Soviet Union and their decedents traditionally mark “Novy God,” or New Year’s in Russian — a day celebrated beginning December 31 that includes parties and family gatherings.

Cities across the country were host to displays of fireworks as the new year began.