BETHLEHEM, Palestine, – The Palestinian Football Association, announced that, the Palestinian Football Cup Finals, between Ahli al-Khalil from the occupied West Bank district of Hebron and Shabab Khan Younis, from the Gaza Strip, would be postponed for 48 hours, after Israeli authorities prevented several Palestinian team members from passing the Erez Crossing, from the Gaza Strip.
Head of the association, Jibril al-Rjoub, said, during a press conference held in Hebron that, after a meeting between al-Rjoub, heads of professional football clubs, and several journalists, the decision was made to postpone the match.
On Wednesday, several team members were prevented from passing the Erez checkpoint from the besieged Gaza Strip into the West Bank, where the finals were supposed to take place in Hebron on Saturday (yesterday). Israeli authorities reportedly held the players for 12 hours, before allowing only ten players to continue on to the West Bank.
The Palestinian Football Association had said at the time that the final game would be cancelled unless all players were allowed to participate in the match, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Al-Rjoub said, there would not be a match unless all Palestinian team members were present, adding that, the game follows FIFA rules and would not be dictated by Israel.
He also pointed out that the President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, and Chairman of the FIFA Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine, Tokyo Sexwale, are expected to visit Gaza.
Rjoub was quoted by Haaretz as saying that “The players arrived at the checkpoint and were forced to wait 12 hours and to undergo interrogations and checks that have no relationship to security. I heard they were asked about their neighbours and about all kinds of things in Gaza that have no connection to security.”
“The sole purpose was to wear them down for hours upon hours in the burning heat, and in the end to allow only part of the team to pass the checkpoint and reach Hebron,” he said, while adding that the incident was “embarrassing.”
Palestinian Football Association officials also pointed out that they had dealt with similar problems in previous matches, including running into challenges, getting all the players past Israeli-controlled checkpoints within the West Bank, when players compete with other West Bank teams, according to Haaretz.
Source: Name News Network