Gaza airstrike kills former Palestinian international Mohammed Barakat; Abada quits Celtic after fan abuse

March 14 – The Palestinian football federation says former national team member Mohammed Barakat was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip.

The federation says 39-year-old Barakat (pictured) was killed Monday in a residential building in the southern city of Khan Younis.

Affectionately known as “the lion” by fellow players, Barakat had played for the national team as well as a number of clubs in Gaza, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

He began his professional career in 2015 with Shabab Khanyounis, where he became the first player in Gaza to score 100 goals with a single team.

The PFA says 158 athletes, including 91 footballers from various divisions, have so far been killed in the conflict.

Meanwhile Israeli footballer Liel Abada has left Celtic in Scotland after reportedly being treated “disgustingly” by pro-Palestine fans of the team.

The 22-year-old international winger cut short his five-year contract and has been acquired by American club Charlotte FC.

Banners among Celtic supporters have read ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Victory to the resistance’ and Avi Luzon, chief of Israeli club Maccabi Petah Tikvah where Liel Abada rose to fame before being transferred to Celtic  in 2021, said that the fans “left him no choice” but to leave.

“On a personal level, Liel Abada felt very bad with everything that was happening, including the indignation of the fans on the street towards him – more than once,” Luzon told  an Israeli sport tv channel. “Liel felt unwelcome where he was – there were hostile looks and it’s not nice to feel that.”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said Abada had not been in the right “frame of mind” since the war in Gaza began. Abada wrote on Instagram that leaving Celtic “wasn’t in my plans, yet life’s unpredictable turns remind us that we’re not always in control.”

“The past six months have been a personal challenge, yet the overwhelming support from the Gaffer, coaches, and board has been my rock. Their unwavering faith during these times won’t be forgotten but cherished forever.”

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