By Paul Nicholson
March 31 – Israeli forces broke into the Faisal Al Husseini international stadium last night and fired tear gas on to the pitch and into the stands, halting the final of the Abu Ammar Cup for an hour while players and fans were treated.
The Israeli attack appears to be unprovoked and the Israeli authorities have not issued a statement regarding the incident or who ordered the troops to attack players and fans in the stadium.
The Faisal Al Husseini international stadium is the home of the Palestinian FA. The Abu Ammar Cup is named after former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat who was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from 1969 to 2004 and President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) from 1994 to 2004.
This year the final was being played between two of the West Bank Premier League’s leading teams, Jabal Al Mukkabber and Balata FC.
About 10pm two Israeli armoured vehicles broke into the stadium. Soldiers exited the vehicles and began firing tear gas from behind a wall.
The match was stopped to treat the injured which included women and children.
To see video footage click here.
Earlier this week FIFA removed the hosting of the U20 World Cup that is due to kick off in in May from Indonesia.
The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has been critical of Israel’s participation in the tournament, while Bali’s governor Wayan Koster had written to the Ministry of Youth and Sports imploring them to “adopt a policy forbidding the Israeli team from competing in Bali” due to the conflict with Palestine.
With the Israelis unable to compete FIFA made the only decision it could and withdrew the tournament from Indonesia.
The actions of the Israeli military in the West Bank last night will do nothing to help their argument that they are good global citizens when it comes to football and the right to play – a right that has implemented in their favour but which they refused to respect in Palestine last night.
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