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Israeli Soccer Player Arrested in Turkey for Honoring Hostages Held by Hamas

Antalyaspor is currently in 7th place of Turkey’s top soccer league.
Israeli soccer player Sagiv Jehezkel displays a message of solidarity with hostages held in Gaza while celebrating a goal for Turkish club Antalyaspor on January 14, 2024. twitter.com
Israeli soccer player Sagiv Jehezkel displays a message of solidarity with hostages held in Gaza while celebrating a goal for Turkish club Antalyaspor on January 14, 2024. twitter.com

Authorities have arrested an Israeli member of the Turkish soccer club Antalyaspor on charges of “inciting people to hatred and hostility.”

The suspect, Sagiv Jehezkel, is accused of exhibiting a hand-bandage after scoring a goal, displaying solidarity with the hostages being held in Gaza by the Hamas terror organization.

Turkish media outlets reported that the 28-year-old was taken into custody on Sunday night.

The goal resulted in a 1-1 draw against Trabzonspor.

Following the incident, Antalyaspor’s front office, announced on X that Jehezkel was immediately suspended from the team, “until further notice.”

In a subsequent post, Sinan Boztepe, the team’s president, described the defender’s actions as acting, “against the sensitivities of Antalya, Antalyaspor, and our country.” Boztepe has said that he would terminate the player’s current contract.

Ynet News reported that the Israeli prime minister’s office has been made aware of the situation and is working with the foreign ministry to secure Jehezkel’s release.

The show of support comes as an estimated 120,000 people attended a demonstration in Tel Aviv Saturday, marking the 100th day since 240 residents of southern Israel were abducted during the Hamas-led massacre. There are approximately 132 hostages still being held in captivity by the Gaza based terror group, including six Americans.

Since Israel commenced its October military operations against Hamas, Turkish government officials have expressed strong criticism towards Jerusalem’s conduct of the war. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has even gone so far as to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is, “no different than Hitler.”

Jehezkel shares the roster with an Arab-Israeli teammate, midfielder Ramzi Safouri. Both players sat out a game on Oct. 21, to protest the decision to hold a moment of silence for the people of Gaza while not mentioning Jewish victims in Israel.

Related Story: Erdogan Warns Israel Not to Go After Hamas in Turkey

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