Israel extends collective punishment to Palestine's footballers

Hebron play Gaza Strip in the 2015 Palestine Cup final at al-Yarmouk Stadium, Gaza City.

Israel prevented at least nine footballers players from crossing from the West Bank into Gaza to join their team for the opening match of the Palestine Cup on July 26.

Israel controls everything in Palestine — even sporting events. The match, at Gaza's Al-Yarmouk Stadium, was between Hebron's Ahly al-Khalil and Shabab Khan Younis. Ahly al-Khalil won 1-0 despite missing more than half of its lead players.

According to Ma'an News Agency, the nine players blocked by Israel included Ahly al-Khalil's three best players who also play for the Palestinian national team.

The Palestinian agency said seven players had been waiting at the Erez crossing, on the border between Israel and Gaza, for permission to enter since the day before the match. Ahly al-Khalil had only 11 players to use in the game — with no substitutes. Shabab Khan Younis had at least 16 players at its disposal.

Samer al-Sha'arawai, a member of Ahly al-Khalil's management, issued a statement on July 25, saying: “Palestinian Football Association told us that 33 members of the West Bank delegation were allowed to enter, yet seven players were denied entry permits, all of them part of Palestinian society in '48 territories.”

Such moves show how the Israeli occupation exerts its power and control over Palestinians in every aspect of their daily lives. It exposes Israel's lie that its measures are for “self-defence”, instead showing how Israel imposes collective punishment on all Palestinians.

The news comes as Israeli bulldozers destroyed 11 Palestinian homes in Qalandiya, near Jerusalem, which brings the number of demolitions this year to 86. Israeli human rights group Bt'Selem said this year's number of demolitions is the highest in more than a decade.

[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]

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