Several Palestinian footballers and fans suffered suffocation and suffocation after Israeli forces fired tear gas during a cup final in East Jerusalem, the Palestine Football Association (PFA) said.
On Thursday, Israeli forces fired tear gas inside the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in Dahiat al-Barid street in al-Ram, a town in East Jerusalem.
Several Palestinian football players and dozens of fans, including children, suffered from gas inhalation and were treated on the field, while three were taken to hospital.
Turkey’s Consul General to Palestine Ahmet Riza Demirer, and Jibril al-Rajoub, the president of the PFA, were attending the final of the Abu Ammar Cup on Thursday evening when Israeli forces interrupted the competition.
The PFA said the attack happened during the half-time break in the match between Markaz Balata, a club from Nablus, and Jabal Al-Mukaber from Jerusalem.
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“Without prior warning, the occupation soldiers placed gas bombs on the stadium, which fell on the pitch and between the stands, where hundreds of fans, including children, were present,” the PFA said.
Fans rushed onto the pitch to get some fresh air. Tear gas is made of chemicals that can cause serious eye and respiratory pain, skin irritation, bleeding, and after prolonged exposure, blindness.
Rajoub said the Israeli attack was intended to harm the lives of football players and fans.
“I think they are the modern day Nazis. Targeting footballers and fans, and firing tear gas on the pitch and stadium is a stain on the pitch. [Israeli] the face of the profession,” said Rajoub.
He added that the PFA would complain to FIFA about the incident and would raise the issue with football federations in Asia and around the world “to put an end to terrorism against the sport”.
‘This is the way of life’
Rajoub said there was no friction or clashes with Israeli forces, and they were surprised to see tear gas canisters raining down on the field.
“We believe that this evidence can be the basis for addressing the crimes of occupation against our people and against Palestinian sports by those neo-Nazis,” he told Palestine TV while in the stadium.
The match between Markaz Balata and Jabal Al-Mukaber was almost abandoned, but the referee resumed after a 30 minute delay.
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Saed Abu Saleem, the goalkeeper and captain of Markaz Balata, told Palestinian television: “This is the occupation. They are trying to make life hell for the Palestinian people.”
“The fans came to see their team play, but the occupation does not want a child or an elderly person, living a normal life like people around the world,” he said.
Abu Saleem said they had removed the tear gas dressing roomand some players suffered from its effects.
Hafid Derradjijournalist and football commentator at BeIn Sport, a pan-Arab sports channel, tweeted that the incident is “another stigma no less dirty than all the inhumane practices our Palestinians are proud to be subjected to”.
A number of Palestinian fans traveled from distant cities and towns in the northern West Bank to watch the game.
A number of fans were treated at the site by club medical teams and the Palestine Red Crescent, some of whom were gasping for fresh air.
Jabal Al-Mukaber won the cup final, 1-0, after Zaid Qunbor scored a header in the 27th minute.
In February, Israeli forces demolished part of the Jenin Football Club during their raids on the city.
In October, an Israeli occupation court sentenced Tariq Al-Araj, a player on the Palestinian national team, to four years in prison for being a member of a “prohibited group” after he was arrested at a military checkpoint in Jenin.
The current right-wing Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state or the presence of Palestinian Authority (PA) institutions and events in occupied East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians still have their capital.