Occupied: Headlines From Palestine

Blogging From Gaza, Palestine

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Israeli Occupation Court Orders Demolition Of Palestinian Football Field -Sports Under Occupation

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — An Israeli court has ruled to demolish a football field and its facilities in occupied East Jerusalem, a local committee said Thursday.The owners of the property, located in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, received a demolition order in the mail over 70 days after the court had passed the ruling at the beginning of June, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said.The “demolition and removal” order had allowed for an appeal to be lodged within 30 days of the ruling.The ruling includes the demolition of a 1.5 dunam sports field as well as a neighboring warehouse and animal shed.Silwan committee member Ahmad Qaraeen said the ruling required that anyone who chose to object to the order would be fined and forced to pay demolition and removal fees. He added that Israeli authorities are aware that the owners of the land — the heirs to Atallah Siyam — regularly allowed the area to be used by Mada Creative center for activities. Qareen said that the Israeli municipality attempted to confiscate the land in 2007 and turn it into a parking lot, but that the move was appealed in court and the land owners built a football field on the property in 2009 after receiving approval from the central court. In 2012, the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority demolished several of the family’s facilities under the pretense of “removing trash,” he added.Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that is seeing an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of the demolition of Palestinian homes and eviction of Palestinian families.Israeli authorities have carried out around 370 demolitions of Palestinian property in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of 2015, displacing an estimated 432 residents, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.Thousands of Palestinian residents are at risk of losing their homes, as members of the current right-wing Israeli government continue to champion longstanding policies to obtain a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem.East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967 in a move never recognized by the international community, and four decades of Israeli policy in the area have neglected the Palestinian community while fostering the growth of Jewish settlement.

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Palestine Football Association Denies Voting For Blatter

GAZA CITY – The Palestinian Football Association on Saturday denied reports that its head, Jibril Rajoub, had voted for Sepp Blatter in the election of the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) on Friday.

It said in a statement that Rajoub had officially announced his backing of Blatter’s rival in the election, Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein, the head of the Jordanian Football Association.

“Rajoub proved this backing by voting for al-Hussein,” the association said.

It underlined the depth of relations between the Palestinian and Jordanian peoples, lashing out at what it described as campaigns aiming at sowing tension between Jordanians and Palestinians.

On Friday, Blatter was re-elected FIFA President amid corruption charges at the top of football’s world governing body.

The 79-year-old Swiss competed against al-Hussein, 39 and FIFA vice-president, in the presidential election at the 65th FIFA Congress held in Zurich, Switzerland.

Al-Hussein received 73 votes, while Blatter received 133 votes in the first round.

With neither candidate achieving a two-thirds majority, the election was to go into a second round. However, al-Hussein announced his withdrawal before the second round began, giving Blatter his fifth election victory as FIFA President.

Blatter, at the helm of FIFA for 17 years, will preside over the organization for four more years.

– See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/palestine-football-association-denies-voting-blatter-1463081327#sthash.TTwxWKGA.dpuf

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Palestine To Press For FIFA Ban On Israel

JERUSALEM (AFP) — The Palestinian Football Association vowed Sunday to push ahead with efforts to have Israel suspended from FIFA following joint talks with the world football body’s president Sepp Blatter in Zurich.

But both sides agreed to continue talking with Blatter, who announced plans to visit the region for top-level talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas on the issue ahead of the upcoming FIFA Congress, in Zurich on May 29.

News of the visit was announced by Blatter on Sunday as he met with Israel Football Association chief Ofer Eini and his Palestinian counterpart Jibril Rajoub.FIFA said the main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Palestinian FA’s request to suspend their Israeli counterparts at the upcoming FIFA congress which starts on May 28.But the Palestinians said there had been no progress at the meeting, adding they would not be deterred from efforts to have Israel suspended.

“It is clear that the Israeli Football Association is not willing to recognize the PFA as a federation with equal rights and obligations, just as they continue to violate their commitments made before FIFA,” Rajoub said in a statement.”We are therefore determined to continue our path to suspend the Israeli Football Association during the next FIFA Congress.”

Palestine, which has been a member of FIFA since 1998, is currently pressuring world football’s governing body to bar Israel from international competition over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players.It is also protesting the participation in the Israeli national championships of five clubs located in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The clubs play in the third and fourth divisions.The Palestinians want the matter put to a vote at the annual FIFA Congress where it will only pass if it gets the support three-quarters of the 209 member federations. In a statement, the IFA said the parties discussed “various possibilities for cancelling the Palestinian request to hold a vote on Israel’s suspension at the upcoming congress,” with Eini saying he was “a little more optimistic” after the talks.

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Palestine To Ask FIFA To Suspend Israel

The Palestinian Football Association will ask the FIFA Congress in May to suspend Israel, accusing it of continuing to hamper its soccer activities.
Despite efforts by FIFA president Sepp Blatter to ease tensions, the Palestinians remain frustrated at restrictions they say Israel imposes on the movement of their athletes between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian Football Association also cited curbs Israel places on the import into Palestinian territories of sports equipment and on visits by foreign teams and individuals.
In 2013, Blatter established a task force which included himself, the Israeli and Palestinian soccer chiefs and the heads of the European and Asian soccer confederations to examine the Palestinian complaints and to try to resolve them.
But Palestine Football Association president Jibril Rajoub said he has lost patience, and he has called on FIFA to show Israel “the red card”.
Israel cites security concerns for restrictions it imposes in the West Bank, where the Western-backed Palestinian Authority exercises limited self rule, and along the border with the Hamas Islamist-run Gaza Strip.
But it says it has eased travel for Palestinian athletes between the two territories, which requires passage via Israel.
In December, Rajoub called on FIFA to sanction Israel after Israeli troops entered the offices of the Palestine Football Association. An army spokesman said at the time soldiers were seeking a wanted individual and were not targeting the premises because of its links to soccer.
The Palestinian draft resolution calls for Israel’s suspension because its actions “inhibit our ability to develop the game”.
It also complains about racist behaviour towards Arab players by some Israeli fans. Many Israeli soccer teams from predominantly Jewish towns have Arab players on their books. There are also many teams from Arab communities.
The Palestinian Football Association said Israel was violating international law by including five clubs from Jewish settlements in the West Bank in domestic league play.
Most countries regard settlements Israel has built on land it captured in a 1967 war as illegal.
Reports in the Israeli media this month said UEFA President Michel Platini had urged former Israel Football Association chief Avi Luzon, a member of the UEFA executive committee, to enlist Western diplomatic help to avert possible sanctions.

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Palestine Football Team the Best in Asia for 2014

MANILA, November 30, 2014 (WAFA) – The Palestinian national football team was on Sunday awarded the Best National Team prize in Asia for the year 2014.

The honoring ceremony came on the sideline of the FIFA 60th anniversary celebrations that were held in the Pilipino capital, Manila.

Head of the Palestine Football Federation, Jibril Rajoub, received the prize after Palestine won the Challenge Cup over North Korea’s Football Team for Juniors and Qatar National Team for Youth. The Palestinian national team also qualified for AFC Asian Cup for the first time in history.

The ceremony was attended by President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, as well as other international football figures.


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Football: Palestine Beats India 3-2

Siliguri: The Indian football team squandered a first-half lead to eventually go down to AFC Challenge Cup Champions Palestine 2-3 in an International friendly here on Monday.

India led 2-1 at the interval at the Kanchenjunga Stadium.

Down by an early 8th minute goal, India displayed character to overturn the table by the interval, courtesy goals from captain Sunil Chhetri and Francis Fernandes. But Wridat Ahmed and Khader Abuhammad scored one apiece for Palestine in the second half to settle the issue for the visitors.

India go down to Palestine 2-3 in football friendly

The Indian football team squandered a first-half lead to eventually go down to AFC Challenge Cup Champions Palestine 2-3 in an international friendly.

Palestine seized the initiative early. Apart from an early flourish in the 3rd minute where the Palestine goalkeeper Ramzi Saleh, also the captain, managed to palm away a dangerously curling free-kick before Arnab Mondal could outjump him, Palestine pushed India back into their own half for the first 10 minutes.

The efforts bore fruit when the skillful Ashraf Alfawaghra reacted faster to tap in from a melee in the 8th minute. India tried to steady the ship thereafter. Play was switched from one flank to the other as India tried to slow down the proceedings. Clifford Miranda’s run down the left in the 24th minute split open the Palestine defence. Clifford sped past Raed Abusalah, entered the box but Abdullatif Albahdari intercepted it earlier than the Robin-Sunil duo.

Nevertheless, India equalised some eight minutes later through Chhetri. Central Defender’s Albahdari’s clearance bounced off Chhetri to enter the net.

If that was a bit lucky, Fernandes’ strike in the 36th minutes was a combination of opportunism and class. One of Robin’s shot bounced off Saleh and Francis, following it up, sidestepped past Saleh and slotted home as India went into the interval enjoying a 2-1 lead.

Immediately after resumption, Subrata Paul tipped over a dangerously dipping freekick from Ashraf. But Ashraf eventually managed to do what he intended. The very next minute, he took it past Raju Gaikwad, evaded Arnab and laid it for Wridat to slap it past a diving Subrata.

If that wasn’t enough, Ashraf feinted past Arnab and Raju and even as he pulled the trigger, Arnab managed to recover in time. India retaliated in style as Clifford went past all and even as his floater was about to be headed in by an onrushing Francis, Albahdari managed to shield him in time.

India had regrouped by then with the trio of Lenny Rodrigues, Chhetri and Robin keeping the rivals guessing. But Palestine surged into the lead again in the 72nd minute and this time Khader Abuhhamd’s harmless shot deflected off Arnab Mondal and changed direction much to the frustration of Paul.

Koevermans made his first substitution in the 75th minute – Arata Izumi replacing Lenny and then Seiminlen Doungel coming in for Miranda in the 80th minute. But Palestine managed to hold fort despite some desperate attempts from India in the last 10 minutes.

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UEFA Lifts Ban On International Matches In Israel

UEFA lifts ban on international matches in Israel: Turns down Jerusalem’s bid to host the Euro 2020 was rejected to the joy of BDS and pro-Palestinian activists

European football’s governing body UEFA announced Thursday it was lifting the ban on international matches being staged in Israel effective immediately, secretary general Gianni Infantino said. “This ban has been lifted due to the improved situation in Israel,” Infantino told reporters.

In July, in the midst of Operation Protective Edge and the fighting in Gaza, UEFA said no Champions League or Europa League matches could be played in Israel until further notice “for security reasons.”

“Consequently, the Israeli clubs involved in forthcoming fixtures have been requested to propose alternative venues outside of Israel’s territory for their home legs in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League,” the statement read.

UEFA decides against Jerusalem tournament bid

On Friday, Jerusalem’s bid to host the Euro 2020 was rejected due to “technical reasons,” but pro-Palestinian activists celebrated the rejection as their victory.

In a letter, sent to UEFA president Michel Platini, 75 Palestinian teams and NGOs said that “holding the UEFA 2020 games in Jerusalem would be tantamount to “rewarding” Israel for its massacre of more than 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children, during its recent 52-day assault on Gaza.”

Abdulrahman Abunahel, the coordinator in Gaza with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, lauded the decision: “Given that awarding Israel the right to host the games would have been a sign of support for Israel’s massacre in Gaza and its war on Palestinian football, UEFA has made the only sensible decision.

“We thank all those who joined us in opposing Israel’s bid to host games in Jerusalem, a city from which Israel is ethnically cleansing Palestinians. Our online campaigning and the occupations of football association buildings in France and Italy undoubtedly played a role in persuading UEFA to to make the right choice.

“Israel has launched a war on football in Palestine: footballers have been killed, stadiums bombed and players have been refused permission to travel to matches. UEFA must suspend the membership the Israeli Football Association if it continues to maintain its links with the Israeli state that practices occupation, colonization and apartheid.”​

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Sports Under Occupation and War: Palestinians Struggle to Get to Asian Games

Palestinians struggle to get to Asian Games

Head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee says 37 sports officials and journalists had died in Gaza war

The head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee told Saturday of the “battle” to get to the Asian Games just weeks after a brutal 50-day war in Gaza. Jibril Al Rajoub said that 37 sports officials and journalists had died in the beleaguered strip during the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Al Rajoub told AFP that three of the dead were sportsmen in Gaza. “Our participation in Incheon is a national and political battle,” he said.

“Even although the Palestinian people are living in circumstances that limit their movement inside Palestine and outside also, and financial difficulties we are facing, we were able to take part in this Asian Games with 80 sportsmen, including seven women, in 12 disciplines,” the official said. He praised the men’s football side which has won its first two games and sits top of its group. The Palestinians have defeated Tajikistan and Oman, 2-1 and 2-0 respectively.

“Our football team is almost through to the second round,” al Rajoub enthused. “This is a big achievement for Palestinian sports and an excellent sign of our participation.

“All our players are under 22 with no one from the first team, which has already qualified for the Asian Cup in Australia,” in January, he added.

“But I’m sure that after the good performance here, some of the players will join the Asian finals.

“I feel that we have a good improvement in football and this comes after our achievement in the AFC Challenge Cup,” which the Palestinian side won, qualifying for the Asian Cup.

The Israeli-Hamas war ended with a truce on August 26. More than 2,140 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed.