10 Gaza soccer players barred from West Bank final, club says

The Gaza post|The News of Palestine-Gaza

Israel has barred 10 Palestinian soccer players from traveling from Gaza to the West Bank to play in Friday’s Palestine Cup final second leg, their club said.

Shabab Rafah are 2-0 up against Ahli al-Khalil of Hebron from Tuesday’s first leg in Gaza City but only 15 members of their squad are being allowed to travel for the return leg, club president Khaled Kwaik told AFP.

Those missing include a striker and two of the club’s three goalkeepers.

“Banning the goalkeepers will negatively affect the team’s performance in the event of an injury to the (remaining) keeper,” Kwaik said.

There was no immediate comment from Israeli authorities on why they had prevented the 10 players from leaving Gaza through the Erez Crossing.

Despite the bans, the rare game between teams from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will go ahead on Friday, the Palestinian Football Association said.

The two territories are separated by Israel and the Palestinians looking to travel between them must apply for permits from the Jewish state.

West Bank and Gaza teams play in separate leagues, with the winners contesting the cup.

Last year Israel’s Shin Bet security service initially barred seven players from Shabab Khan Younis in the Gaza strip. The agency said the team members were barred due to “severe negative security background.”

However, a few days later the players received permits, and the final was able to go ahead.

The cup was stopped for 15 years largely due to problems with Israeli permits, but restarted in 2015 after world soccer governing body FIFA intervened.

Source :The Times of Israel

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