Israeli authorities on Friday prevented Gaza's Ittihad al-Shujaiyeh football team from leaving the besieged enclave to face West Bank rivals Ahli al-Khalil in the second leg of a cup game, a spokesperson for the club said.For once, it actually updated the story with part of the truth:
The Gaza-based team was scheduled to leave the coastal territory together with Hebron's Ahli al-Khalil after having played an historic game a day earlier at the Yarmouk stadium.
But four of the players and three of the team's staff were refused travel permits, spokesperson Alaa Shamali said.
But the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT) said in a statement that it had coordinated travel permission for 37 players from Ittihad al-Shujaiyeh and had required four players to attend a preliminary inquiry and so arranged their crossing a day earlier.Reuters adds:
Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub canceled their permission to cross, COGAT's statement added, saying that coordination was once again arranged for Friday but canceled by the Palestinian official.
"Palestinians are giving a cynical use to sports, damaging only the Palestinian public," the Israeli statement said.
Israeli authorities said they had allowed 33 of 37 players to cross but wanted to ask further questions of the remaining four. They were invited for screening on both Thursday and Friday but refused, an Israeli border affairs spokeswoman said.Jibril Rajoub, whose only interest in sports is to use it to demonize Israel, canceled the trip - and postponed the match - in order to get news headlines saying that Israel blocked them from leaving!
“They will be allowed to cross on Sunday after questions,” spokeswoman Hadar Horen said. The border is closed on Saturdays.