Palestine

Calls are mounting on FIFA to require Israel’s national league to exclude teams from West Bank settlements or face suspension from the governing body of world football (soccer).

But there are warning signs FIFA may be succumbing to intense pressure to once again give Israel a pass to continue violating Palestinian rights with impunity.

Leaders of Palestinian political party Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, released a document outlining their guiding principles at a press conference in the Qatari capital Doha on May 1.

Much coverage focused on the document’s acceptance of Israel’s 1967 boundary as the basis for establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The document also includes pronouncements on how Hamas views the roots of the conflict, the role of Palestinian resistance and its position towards Jewish people.

The demands of the hunger strikers are for basic civil rights. There are 6500 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, including 300 children. About 500 are being held under “administrative detention” — meaning they are held without trial by court orders that can be renewed indefinitely.

Despite the scale of the hunger strike and huge popular support enjoyed by the prisoners and their campaign for “freedom and dignity”, Israel shows no signs of acceding to any of the prisoners’ demands to end their ill-treatment.

A young Palestinian man became the first victim of the open-ended hunger strike launched 1600 Palestinian political prisoners in the occupied West Bank on May 1. The 30-year-old, identified as Mazan al-Maghrebi, passed away at his home in the city of Ramallah, where he was on hunger strike in solidarity with the prisoners. 

In a petition to English rock band Radiohead, Jewish voices for Peace ask the rockers to respect the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targeting Israel, and cancel a Tel Aviv gig scheduled for July.

Launched by dozens of Palestinian civil society groups in 2005, the BDS campaign aims to isolate Israel in protest against its apartheid policies towards Palestinians.

Support for the more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, which began on April 16, continues to grow across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, despite the more than 1500 prisoners on hunger strike getting almost no reaction from mainstream media.

Palestinian cook and writer Laila El-Haddad recently completed a successful Australian tour. Weaving stories of Palestinian life through her demonstrations of a cuisine that is unfamiliar to many Australians, Laila showed curious foodies how food, culture, resistance and occupation intersect and what it is like to live through such a heady mix.

A record number of Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike to coincide with Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on April 16.

More than 1500 prisoners are taking part in the largest mass hunger strike in recent years. Marwan Barghouti, sentenced by Israel to five life sentences, is leading a renewed campaign to draw attention to the conditions Palestinian prisoners face.

It also aims to highlight the oppressive nature of Israel’s colonial occupation that makes arrests of Palestinian people all but inevitable.

On an August evening in Glasgow last year, supporters of Celtic Football Club waved dozens of Palestinian flags during a Champions League playoff match against Israeli team Hapoel Be’er Sheva, garnering global attention.

The situation for Palestinian and Arab football (soccer) players in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza has, for some time, been dire.

On one side of Israel’s Apartheid Wall, within the formal borders of Israel, segregated youth teams, racist abuse, and heckling — including charming chants such as “Death to the Arabs” — are frequent. On the other, in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, checkpoint detention, jailings, and the bombing of stadiums have become regular features of what is supposed to be the people’s game.

Given the powerful role that football plays as a point of community cohesion in the West Bank and Gaza, this everyday violence feels like a full-frontal attack on civil society, normalcy and hope.

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