Israeli footballer arrested in Turkey for displaying Israel-Hamas war message

Sagiv Jehezkel of Maccabi Tel Aviv looks on during the UEFA Europa League Group D football match between FC Zenit St. Petersburg and Maccabi Tel Aviv FC at Petrovsky stadium

File. Sagiv Jehezkel, 28, and capped eight times by the Israeli national team, celebrated scoring a goal against Trabsonspor by gesturing to a message written on a bandage on his left wrist, which read ‘100 days. 07/10’. Picture: Mike Kireev / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)

Published Jan 15, 2024

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An Israeli footballer who showed a message referring to the Israel-Hamas war during a first division match in Turkey has been arrested, several Turkish news outlets reported late Sunday.

Earlier, the country's justice minister said it was investigating Israeli player Sagiv Jehezkel over suspected "incitement to hate". His club Antalyaspor, has already sacked him over the incident.

Jehezkel, 28, and capped eight times by the Israeli national team, celebrated scoring a goal against Trabsonspor by gesturing to a message written on a bandage on his left wrist, which read "100 days. 07/10”.

The message was believed to be a reference to the 100 days of the Israel-Hamas war and the hostages held since the Palestinian militant group launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7, killing about 1,140 people and abducting around 250 others. Israel says 132 hostages are still being held in Gaza.

In retaliation

In retaliation, Israel has bombarded the coastal strip, killing at least 23,968 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

"The Antalya public prosecutor's office has opened a judicial investigation against Israeli footballer Sagiv Jehezkel for public incitement to hate due to his odious celebration in favour of the massacre committed by Israel in Gaza," said Turkish Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc on ‘X'.

"We will continue to support the oppressed Palestinians," he added, denouncing what he described as ongoing "genocide" in Gaza.

Antalyaspor said it had sacked the Israeli player, accusing him of having "acted against the values of our country”.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) added: "We condemn the completely unacceptable behaviour of footballer Sagiv Jehezkel during the match between Antalyaspor and Trabzonspor played today (...) and find Antalyaspor's decision to exclude the player from its team appropriate.”

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a longtime supporter of the Palestinian cause, has repeatedly described Israel as a "terrorist state", and Hamas as a "group of liberators”.

On Friday, South Africa said it had stripped its national Under-19 Cricket World Cup skipper David Teeger of the captaincy over fears he could be targeted by protesters over his pro-Israeli views.

Teeger was cleared of wrongdoing last month after he praised Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza at an award ceremony for Jewish achievers.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) said it had been advised that protests over the conflict are likely to target the tournament's venues later in the month, with a risk of "conflict or even violence".

AFP