Gaza Palestinian Sports
Once a week, chaos in Gaza gives way to silence and occasional silence. Welcome to 2009, when Israel's offensive on Gaza and ceasefire found expression in the sporting world. Unlike other Palestinian territories, separated from Israel by the West Bank and dominated by the Islamist movement Hamas, few girls in Gaza play indoor soccer.
Palestinian athletes enjoy regular sporting competitions, but Israel's restrictions on them are relentless. They are part of the ongoing effort to prevent Palestinians from engaging in activities that should have nothing to do with their security, such as sports.
Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinian soccer players last November, their careers ended by injuries sustained when the Israeli military stormed the headquarters of the Palestinian Football Association. Israeli soldiers and destroyed in Israel, and two of them were shot by an Israeli soldier during the raid.
Both Gaza and the West Bank compete for the winner of the Palestine Cup, as they have their own leagues, the Gaza Premier League and the Gaza League, respectively. The winners of the Gaza League playoffs will play the West Bank champions in the first round of this year's competition, with the winners from both leagues advancing to the final.
Due to Israeli restrictions, no players from Gaza or the West Bank are on the team. The Israeli occupation and the resulting political conditions are the obstacles that stand between Palestinian athletes taking part in the Olympic Games and their participation, as can be seen from the fact that Al-Ahly was the first team from Gaza to be allowed to play away games outside the Gaza Strip. Israel initially denied the winning team the right to travel to the occupied West Bank, but it has since been seen as a major step forward for the future of sport in Gaza.
After the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, two sports clubs and trade unions were founded in Gaza. In 1967, the Palestinian Sports Centre moved its headquarters from Gaza to Jerusalem, where the Palestinian Football Association was founded in 1971. Palestinian football training camps were supposed to take place in Israel, where the Gaza team first met their peers in their training camp in Jerusalem and then on their way to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since then, Palestinian national tournaments have been held separately, but the Palestinian Football Association organises separate competitions.
Two million Palestinians living in the narrow coastal enclave of Gaza must apply for permission from Israel to travel to the West Bank. The Palestinian Football Association hopes FIFA will intervene in favour of the Gaza team and demand that Israel reverse the refusal to grant them a match permit.
The formation of an amputated football team in Gaza will enable Palestinians injured by Israel to continue to play their beloved sport. It is so important that they continue to press for their right to play without interference. Please consider supporting the Palestinian Football Association's appeal to FIFA for a match permit for the Gaza match against Israel on Saturday.
Israel must not be allowed to participate in international sport while at the same time it is cementing its apartheid and racist regime in Palestine. Israel has prevented the Rafah football team from travelling between the West Bank and Gaza Strip and prevented them from training and educating their players. FIFA has turned a blind eye to Israel's attempts to allow the Palestinians to host matches in the Palestine Cup. Palestine and Israel must abide by Fifa's rules, which allow Palestine to open a new political front, because much of its conduct is illegal under international law adopted by Fifa.
The Palestine Cup was suspended in 2016 when FIFA reached an agreement with Israel on the freedom of movement of Palestinians. With the support of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Palestinian sport was able to penetrate the Arab and international arenas. This means that Palestinians will continue to embrace and prosper, but only in the context of peace and reconciliation between Israel and Palestine.
He said that while much attention has been paid to football, the obstacles imposed by Israel include many other sports, which prevent coaches from holding classes in Gaza. He said: "The Gaza Strip under siege by Israel has deprived athletes who have participated in international sporting events over the past decade of participation, including sporting events that took place just a few hours away.
Israeli human rights groups also said efforts like this were being made to drive a wedge between the West Bank and Gaza to thwart the Palestinian people's aspirations for nationality, according to Al Jazeera. Israeli attacks on athletes and sport in Palestine, and Israel has once again shown how it controls occupied Palestine and is using this control to undermine the social and cultural links that link the West Bank to Gaza. He added: "Palestinian sport carries a message of love and peace to the world, which requires FIFA and the international community to confront the Israeli violation of the sport of athletes and Palestine. More than 200 Palestinian sports clubs have backed Puma's call for an end to its relations with Israel and have pressured Israel to end its violations of Palestinian human rights.