Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The occupation state of Israel has denied travel for most players on a Gaza soccer team which had hoped to reach the West Bank to play a local championship final against a rival Palestinian club.
Khadamat Rafah is set to play Balata FC in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday. But without the hard-to-obtain Israeli travel permits, the game is unlikely to take place as scheduled.
“We think that this is clear evidence that this Israeli occupation is cruel but from our side we keep raising it at all the levels of FIFA. We insist that this is our right and we’ll continue exerting every effort to allow this team to do this match,” the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, told The Associated Press.
Israel Hayom quoted the Israeli inelegance claiming that they found out that “most” of the team players are related to “terrorists”.
“We are a club carrying messages of love and peace and have no security activities as the occupation claims,” said Hozayfa Lafi, Khadamat Rafah’s spokesman.
Rajoub said his association has long lobbied FIFA to sanction Israel for what it says are its efforts to restrict the movement of Palestinian players. He slammed the withholding of permits and pledged to hold the game.
Gisha, an Israeli rights group that had challenged the move in court, criticized Israel’s permit system.
“The ease with which the state labels Palestinians as a security threat turns out to be time and again an arbitrary and sweeping act, while in the best case ignoring the serious harm that is dealt to the fabric of civilian life in the Palestinian territory,” said Gisha.
The Palestine Cup had been suspended for years until 2016 when FIFA reached understandings between Israel and the Palestinians over the movement of athletes.
Tournaments in 2017 and 2018 took place as planned.