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Israeli footballer arrested, fired for dedicating goal to hostages

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An Israeli footballer, Sagiv Jehezkel, has been arrested and fired by his Turkish club, Antalyaspor, after dedicating a goal to hostages abducted by Hamas.

Daily Mail reports that Turkish police detained and questioned him on Monday over a message he displayed on his bandaged wrist saying ‘100 days, 7.10’, during a top-tier match alluding to the passage of 100 days since the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel.

Jehezkel, 28, was reported to have held his clenched fist aloft to display the message after scoring a goal for his team against Trabzonspor in Turkey’s Super League on Sunday.

The president of his Turkish club, Sinan Boztepe, disclosed on X that Jehezkel had been removed from the club for the act.

He wrote, “Sagiv Jehezkel, who was seen to have acted against the national values ​​of our country by sharing the writing on his wrist after scoring the goal has been decided to be excluded from the squad by the decision of the board of directors.

“Our Board of Directors will never allow behavior against the sensitivities of our country, even if it results in a championship or a cup.”

The Turkish Football Federation supported the decision of the club in a post on its official X handle which read, “We condemn the completely unacceptable behavior of football player Segiv Jehezkel in the Bitexen Antalyaspor – Trabzonspor match. We find Bitexen Antalyaspor’s decision to exclude the player from the squad appropriate.”

The Turkish Minister of Justice, Yilmaz Tunc, in a post on X also disclosed, “Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched a judicial investigation against Israeli football player Sagiv Jehezkel for the crime of ‘inciting the public to hatred and hostility’ due to his ugly action supporting the massacre committed by Israel in #Gazze after the goal he scored.”

However, former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett slammed the arrest and removal of Jehezkel from the club in a tweet on X, describing the situation as “unbelievable”.

He wrote, “This is Turkey 2024. Shame on you, Turkish government.”

Despite the severe consequences, Israeli media reported that Jehezkel did not regret making the gesture, and said, “It was a gesture for the Israeli hostages in Gaza, a humanitarian gesture.

‘It was important to me to point out that they have been in captivity for 100 days. I didn’t want to provoke anyone. I know Turkish feelings, it was just a gesture.”

Yehezkel is reported to have been released pending a trial, and a private plane has been sent from Israel to pick him and his family up so they could return him home.

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