Palestinian footballers hit by Israeli strikes

At least five footballers were injured by the attack, reports say

Soccer Football - AFC Asian Cup - Palestine v Jordan - Group B - Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - January 15, 2019  Jordan's Baha Abdel-Rahman and Saeed Al-Murjan in action with Palestine's Yashir Pinto   REUTERS/Suhaib Salem     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Palestinian footballers were forced to leave the pitch after Israeli forces fired tear gas into the Al Khader Stadium in Bethlehem.

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) said five players were taken to hospital for treatment during the Friday night game between Al Ebeidiyah and Al Doha which was abandoned.

No reason has been given by Israel on the attack, which the PFA called “unprovoked”.

Campaign group Red Card Israeli Racism believes the incident is not isolated, after two similar attacks to Palestinian football players in 2016 and 2014.

It accused Israel of stepping up harassment of Palestinian football players and officials at checkpoints and by detention.

PFA Vice President for International Affairs, Ms Susan Shalabi, was detained at a checkpoint crossing from Jordan after returning to Palestine from Australia following the first game in the Asian Cup tournament held in the UAE.


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“Israeli military don’t bother about the subtlety of their actions”, said Geoff Lee, coordinator at the Red Card Israeli Racism campaign group.

The campaign group also accused FIFA of ignoring the plight of Palestinian footballers playing in occupied territories.

“The treatment of settlement clubs in Palestine’s occupied territories contravenes FIFA regulations”, said Mr Lee.

“I have no confidence in FIFA at all in dealing with the matter.”

There are a total of 6 football clubs in the occupied territories, but they are all registered to play under Israel’s football league.

Palestine filed a complaint to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) with a hearing taking place in July last year about its teams playing in Israeli leagues, but have yet to publish their findings.