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    Hebron's Al-Ahly Wael Mresat (L) fails to score against Gaza Strip's Shejaia during the 2015 Palestine Cup final at al-Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza City. | Photo: Reuters

Israel prevented nine soccer players from crossing from the West Bank into Gaza to join their team for the opening match of the Palestine Cup.

Israel controls everything in Palestine even when it comes to sports events far away from politics and security.

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The Israeli authorities prevented at least nine Palestinian soccer players from crossing from the West Bank to Gaza Tuesday to participate in the first match of the Palestine Cup at Gaza’s Al-Yarmouk Stadium between Hebron’s Ahly al-Khalil and Shabab Khan Younis.

According to Ma’an News Agency, the nine players included Ahly al-Khalil’s three best players who also play for the Palestinian national team: Ahmad Harbi, who began his career with Hapoel Umm al-Fahm; Abdullah Jaber, born in Taybe; and Mahmoud Daif Allah, resident of East Jerusalem.

The match took place Tuesday and saw Ahly al-Khalil win 1-0 despite missing more than half of its lead players. The Palestinian agency said Tuesday the seven were still waiting at the Erez crossing, on the border between Israel and Gaza, for permission since Monday. In total Ahly al-Khalil had 11 players, as opposed to Shabab Khan Younis, which had at least 16 players.

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Samer al-Sha’arawai, a member of Ahly al-Khalil’s management, issued a press release Monday saying that, “Palestinian Football Association told us that 33 members of the West Bank delegation were allowed to enter, yet seven players were denied entry permits, all of them part of Palestinian society in '48 territories. We are in constant contact with the association and hope that the problem will be solved so that everyone can enter the Strip.”

Such moves show how the Israeli occupation exerts its power and control over Palestinians in every aspect of their daily lives, going beyond the simple and flawed Israeli argument of “self-defense” and extending to the level of collective punishment.

The news comes as Israeli bulldozers destroyed 11 Palestinian homes in Qalandiya, near Jerusalem, which brings the number of demolitions this year to 86. Israeli human rights group Bt'Selem said this year’s number is the highest in more than a decade.


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