Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continue to impede sports in Palestine and hinder the movement of Palestinian athletes through the destruction of sports fields, obstructing athletes’ freedom of movement within the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and abroad, and constantly arresting athletes.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) denounces these Israeli violations and calls on the international community and International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and other sports' governing bodies to intervene to guarantee the safety of the arrested football players and ensure respect for the rules of international law in oPt.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring, at approximately 3pm on Thursday, 3 March 2016, Fadi Nimir Al Sharif, 28, a football player at the Al Hilal Football Club and a resident of Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza city, was arrested by IOF while traveling via Erez border crossing. His brother informed Al Mezan that in October 2015 Fadi suffered a tear in his cruciate ligament during a football match. He was recently granted permission to receive medical treatment inside Israel; therefore he traveled accompanied by his father to Al Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem for five days. On their way back to Gaza through Erez border crossing, Fadi was arrested and his father was allowed to return to Gaza.
In another incident, at approximately 1 am on Sunday, 6 March 2016, IOF arrested Sami Fadil Al Da’our, 27; a football player in Al Somou’ Youth football Club in Hebron, West Bank. His brother informed Al Mezan that IOF raided Sami’s residence in Hebron and arrested him and confiscated his laptop. He was taken to the interrogation center in Ashkelon inside Israel. Sami is with a contract with his football club for a year.
In a third incident, according to Al Mezan’s sources, on Friday, 4 March 2016, IOF arrested Mohamed Abu Khwais, a resident of Jerusalem.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the restriction imposed by Israel on Palestinian athletes and their ongoing arrests. Al Mezan recalls FIFA resolution on 29 May 2016, which adopted the formation of a Monitoring Committee to monitor and respond to Israeli violations against footballers in Palestine. Al Mezan demands that the IOF release the arrested Palestinian athletes immediately and calls on FIFA and international community to intervene and ensure their safety and the immediate release.