Turks turn on Israeli players with Başakşehir’s Eden Kartsev now the target

January 15 – Following Turkey’s decision to deport Israeli player Sagiv Jehezkel over a gesture he made during an on-field celebration in sympathy with  Hamas-held hostages in Gaza, attention has now turned to a second Israeli player who also expressed solidarity with the abductees.

İstanbul Başakşehir said it would open disciplinary action against midfielder Eden Kartsev for harming “sensitive values” in Turkey.

The drama over the two Israeli players began when Jehezkel, who played for Antalyaspor, celebrated his equalizer in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Trabzonspor by displaying his wristband bearing the words ‘100 days. October 7’ along with a Star of David symbol.

The gesture did not go down well in Turkey, a country that is fiercely pro-Palestinian and which takes a hostile approach towards Israel.

Jehezkel was promptly arrested while his team said it was terminating his contract before he was deported. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief adviser reportedly called the player “Israel’s vile dog in a footballer’s clothing”.

Pressure is now mounting on Turkish social media for İstanbul Başakşehir to take disciplinary action against Kartsev, who published an Instagram story similarly identifying with the Gaza hostages and echoing the slogan calling to ‘Bring them home now’.

The fan club for Başakşehir, tellingly a favourite club of Erdogan, wrote on X: “We do not want Zionist supporters who disregard the values ​​and sensitivities of our country.”

The club itself then published a statement saying it had launched a “disciplinary probe” against Kartsev, alleging that he had “violated the club’s disciplinary rules by publishing a post on his Instagram that harms sensitive values of our country, and we expect a written defense by the player on the matter.”

Whether the actions of either Israeli player justifies expelling them is highly questionable to say the least, whatever one feels about Israel’s indiscriminate and disproportionate bombing campaign in Gaza.

The Turkish authorities are hardly best placed to act as judge and jury given their own record on human rights and free speech – and their renowned support for Hamas. Indeed the language used by Erdogan’s official spokesman speaks for itself.

Israeli officials, among them Israel Football Association chair Moshe Shino Zuares, are said to be making efforts to bring Kartsev back to Israel as soon as possible due to fears he could be physically harmed.

Meanwhile Israeli ministers, responding to the furore over Jehezkel, blasted Ankara as an accomplice of Hamas, Erdogan as a “full-on Nazi,” and Turkey as a “dark dictatorship”.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1712331560labto1712331560ofdlr1712331560owedi1712331560sni@w1712331560ahsra1712331560w.wer1712331560dna1712331560