Weeks after Palestinians sought to boot Israel from world soccer, claiming Israel places unreasonable limitations on the movements of their players, Palestinian participants in a youth soccer tournament are set to play for teams named after terrorists who have killed numerous Israeli civilians.
According to Palestinian Media Watch, squads such as the Martyr Abu Jihad team (named after a Fatah founder responsible for the deaths of 125 Israelis) and the Martyr Khaled Nazzal team (dubbed after the former secretary of the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which orchestrated the Ma’alot massacre in May 1974 in which 22 schoolchildren and 5 adults were killed) are set to take part in official matches to be played throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Other teams are named after Abu Ali Mustafa, the late secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Mu’taz Hijazi, an Islamic Jihad member who attempted last year to assassinate Yehudah Glick, a prominent activist working for the Jewish right to visit and pray on the Temple Mount.
The soccer tournament is to be held in the West Bank town of Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, the PMW watchdog reported.
The Israeli and Palestinian soccer associations were last month involved in a confrontation after the latter tried to have Israel suspended from the International Federation of Soccer. The Palestinian delegation to FIFA dropped the motion at the last moment amid pressure from dozens of international delegates.
Palestinians maintain that Israeli security restrictions are limiting the movement of Palestinian players, visiting teams and soccer equipment.
Last month, a Palestinian soccer player was briefly detained by Israeli security personnel at the Allenby border crossing with Jordan, prompting the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, to send a letter of complaint to FIFA head Sepp Blatter. Rajoub said the incident served as “proof” that Israeli promises to ease security restrictions on Palestinian players were insincere.
An Israeli security source told Israel Radio that the player, Sameh Marawbe, was detained for security reasons and had been arrested seven months ago for receiving funds and messages from Hamas representatives in Qatar to pass on to Hamas members in the West Bank city of Qalqilya.