Argentina's national football team cancelled an upcoming friendly match with Israel, after the Tev Aviv regime killed tens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
News ID: 70554
Publish Date: 06June 2018 - 15:07
TEHRAN (Defapress)- Argentina has cancelled a World Cup warm-up match with Israel, apparently under political pressure over Tel Aviv regime's treatment of Palestinians in Gaza, World News reported.
The fixture between the two teams was set to be played in Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium on June 9, which is built on land that was once a Palestinian village that was destroyed in 1948.
In Ramallah in the West Bank, the Palestinian football association issued a statement thanking Argentine striker Lionel Messi and his colleagues for the cancellation.
"Values, morals and sport have secured a victory today and a red card was raised at Israel through the cancellation of the game," chairman Jibril Rajoub stressed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Argentine President Mauricio Macri late Tuesday, at Culture Minister Miri Regev's request, in an attempt to prevent the game's cancellation. Macri informed Netanyahu in a follow-up conversation, however, that he is unable to influence the final decision, according to sources in the Prime Minister's Bureau.
Star Argentine player Gonzalo Higuain told ESPN that "they've finally done the right thing. The correct thing was to not go to Israel".
Jorge Sampaoli, coach of Argentina, who was not interested in a game in Israel, complained about it again in the last few days.
Ambassador of Palestine in Argentina Husni Abdel Wahed had expressed his opposition to the friendly.
"This match would be similar to us celebrating... the occupation of Malvinas," he told Radio Coperativa on Tuesday, referring to the Falkland Islands.
Abdel Wahed went on to say that the match was part of the celebrations of Israel's 70th anniversary since its establishment in 1948, after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their villages and lands by Zionist paramilitaries.
"For us it is unacceptable to hold this game in Jerusalem because it is occupied territory, and it is painful to see that the team, which has the love and support of so many Palestinians and Arab citizens, support the violation of international law," he added.
The head of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) Jibril Rajoub has also slammed the friendly as being opposite "a game of peace".
"The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem," Rajoub stated.
Last month, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement- launched a campaign urging Argentina to pull out of the fixture.
"There is nothing 'friendly' about military occupation and apartheid," the movement said, which calls for an end to the occupation of Palestine, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and equal rights for Palestinians citizens of Israel.
"Don't play Israel until Palestinians' human rights are respected," it added.
As part of the campaign, Mohammed Khalil, a Palestinian footballer, directed a message toward the Argentina's beloved forward.
"I call on the Argentinian team and especially captain Lionel Messi – because he is very popular in Palestine, particularly in the Gaza Strip – to stand in solidarity with Palestinians and to boycott the scheduled game with Israel, which is occupying our land," Khalil said.
Khalil was shot by Israeli snipers in late March, during the first Friday protests of Palestinians demonstrating East of Gaza, demanding their right to return. He was shot in both of his legs, and one of his knee caps had to be removed, putting an end to his footballing career.
Between March 30 and May 15, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip protested for seven consecutive weeks calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the homes and villages they were forcibly expelled from by Zionist militias in 1948.
Since the start of the rallies, more than 120 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed and at least 13,000 injured along the fence in Gaza.
The Amnesty International has also stressed that the attacks on Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip are “willful killings constituting war crimes", while the UN Human Rights Council has also decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all alleged violations and abuses which may amount to war crimes in the occupied Gaza Strip.
The violence was condemned by rights groups and most UN Security Council members, with even the US’ closest allies refusing to stand by Washington’s support for Tel Aviv.