Israel footballer faces Turkey sack for hostage plea

15 January 2024 0 By Total Football News
Antalyaspor's Israeli player Sagiv Jehezkel shows his bandage which has "100 days, 7.10" written on it, referring to the attack by Hamas on October 7, 2023Image source, Reuters
Image caption,

Sagiv Jehezkel was celebrating his 68th minute equaliser in the Turkish Super Lig match against Trabzonspor when he held up the bandage.

An Israeli footballer faces prosecution in Turkey and the sack from his club for showing solidarity with hostages taken in the 7 October Hamas attacks during a goal celebration.

Sagiv Jehezkel, a player for Antalyaspor, held up a bandaged hand that read "100 days. 7/10".

The attacks triggered Israel's bombardment of Gaza which has left tens of thousands dead.

Turkey accused the footballer of supporting "Israel's massacre in Gaza".

Jehezkel said he was not "pro-war" and Israel accused Turkey of hypocrisy.

He was detained before being released pending trial on Monday - he is being investigated for "publicly inciting the public to hatred and hostility".

Turkey's Minister of Justice Yilmaz Tunc said an investigation had been launched due to the player's "ugly action supporting Israel's massacre in Gaza".

Jehezkel has also been suspended by Antalyaspor, and Israel's Foreign Minister said he was expected to fly home later on Monday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been a staunch supporter of the Palestinians, including Hamas, and has been highly critical of Israel's conduct in Gaza. The country has also seen large pro-Palestinian rallies since 7 October.

According to local outlet DHA, Jehezkel gave a statement through a translator saying he did not "make a move to provoke", but wanted the war to end.

"I am not a pro-war person… there are Israeli soldiers captured in Gaza. I am someone who believes that this 100-day period should end now. I want the war to end," he said.

Sunday marked 100 days since Hamas launched its deadly attacks on southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people, mainly civilians. About 240 people were taken back to Gaza as hostages, approximately 132 of whom are still being held.

Israel has waged a near-constant campaign of bombardment on the Gaza Strip since then, killing more than 23,000 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Thousands more are believed to be dead under rubble.

Israeli officials have criticised Turkey's actions towards Jehezkel.

Defence Minister Yadav Gallant said Israel had supported Turkey in last year's earthquakes, accusing Turkey of "an expression of hypocrisy".

"In its actions, Turkey serves as the executive arm of Hamas," he said.

Israel's former prime minister Naftali Bennett said the conduct of Turkey's government was shameful.

Jehezkel, who signed for Antalyaspor in September, was celebrating his 68th minute equaliser in the Turkish Super Lig match against Trabzonspor when he held up the bandage, which also included a star of David.

After the match, Antalyaspor released a statement saying Jehezkel had "acted against the national values of our country", and that he would be "excluded from the squad".

The Turkish Football Federation described Jehezkel's actions as "unacceptable", and said the decision by Antalyaspor to exclude him from the squad was "appropriate".

Caglayan Group, Antalyaspor's main shirt sponsor, said they would withdraw their sponsorship if Jehezkel's contract was not terminated.

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