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  • A Palestinian goalkeeper practices fielding shots in a file photo at the Gaza soccer stadium where a large mural of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat hangs behind the goal.

    A Palestinian goalkeeper practices fielding shots in a file photo at the Gaza soccer stadium where a large mural of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat hangs behind the goal. | Photo: Reuters

Last year, Israel also restricted Gazan soccer players from crossing into the West Bank.

As Israeli authorities continue to place ever-restrictive measures on Palestinians – and Palestinian resistance – a travel ban on six Palestinian soccer players heading to the Palestine Cup has been reversed.

The approval came 72 hours after a Palestinian complaint to FIFA, the international soccer governing body.

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An online petition to FIFA on behalf of the Palestinian players had already amassed nearly 150,000 signatures by Monday. The petition demanded that FIFA apply its bylaws to Israeli soccer clubs by stating that “If the Israeli Football Association doesn’t comply it must lose its membership with FIFA, as has been the case with other federations that have refused to accept FIFA’s fair play rules.”

With the game originally scheduled to take place on Saturday – but delayed due to the ban on 11 players from Shabab Khan Younis in Gaza – it will now go forward and take place Tuesday.

Authorities had justified the ban saying it had found a “severe negative security background” on the players.

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Last year, Israel also refused to allow players from another Gaza team to travel to Hebron for the national championship game. Then, as now, Israel lifted the ban after international pressure from FIFA.

Last year, too, the Palestinian Football Association withdrew their motion to expel Israel from FIFA last year in a compromise that was supposed to have set up a committee to ensure freedom of movement for Palestinian soccer players.

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