Sunday, March 29, 2015

CHAPTER IV: Israeli Transgressions against Palestinian Sports. Mechanism reaches a dead end (FIFA 65th Congress May 2015 in Zurich)

CHAPTER IV:  Israeli Transgressions against Palestinian Sports. Mechanism reaches a dead end (FIFA 65th Congress May 2015 in Zurich) 

By: Susan Shalabi


The FIFA Task Force mechanism, an attempt by FIFA to ease the suffering of Palestinian football, was started after the FIFA 63rd Congress in Mauritius in June 2013, when the congress voted to give FIFA President Mr. Joseph Blatter a mandate to address the complaints raised by the Palestine Football Association regarding its inability to develop the game of football because of the Israeli occupation . It was reviewed in the following FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo, in June 2014.The FIFA congress had heard the report of FIFA President Sepp Blatter on the mechanism  (involving both the Palestine and Israel Associations), and had unanimously voted in a proposal by the President to develop the mechanism and try to fix its many shortcomings. A neutral monitor was appointed after the FIFA 64th Congress with a mission to oversee the proceedings of communication between the parties involved, and make sure FIFA intervenes to address any issues that may arise. The monitor presented both his report and resignation to the FIFA Executive committee in December 2014, and the Task Force reached a dead end. 

So, Why did the Mechanism not produce any viable change?

1- The Israel Football Association (IFA) continued to assume the position of the Israeli political and military authorities, as reflected in:
  •  The demand by the IFA, sent in a letter to FIFA on 25 August 2013 that “the Palestine Football Association MUST operate through the formal channels of the state of Israel” is a serious violation of Article 17-1 of the FIFA statutes that  clearly states that “Each Member shall manage its affairs independently and with no influence from third parties.”
  • The absence of a stance by the IFA against its government’s policy to hinder the development of Palestinian football, which makes it extremely difficult for the PFA to benefit from the rights and carry on the obligations stipulated in articles 12-1/d-e, 13-b and 13-e of the FIFA statutes.
 2- The IFA continues to organize football official activities in areas under the jurisdiction of another association:

including allowing clubs in illegal Israeli colonies located in internationally recognized Palestinian territories (as per UN Security Council resolutions  (S/RES/242) and (S/RES/338), and UN General Assembly resolution (A/RES/67/19) to play, and be registered, in the Israel FA league, which constitutes a violation of articles 10-1, 13-1/i and 17-1 of the FIFA statutes.

3- The absence of a stance by the IFA, against discrimination and racism, in the areas under its jurisdiction, which constitutes direct violation of article 3 of the FIFA statutes:
  • “Beitar Jerusalem FC” which is an Israeli professional football club from Jerusalem, and a member of the Israeli Premier League, continues to embrace racism, unchecked. Eli Cohen, The manager of the club, had told Israel’s Ynet that “There’s a difference, and it makes a difference, between a European Muslim and an Arab Muslim and the fans here have a problem with Arabs living in the Middle East.” The racism of said club was reported by an ESPN documentary; yet, no serious measures were taken against the club.
  • Only in Israeli soccer can a club block Arabs from joining its ranks, and harsh violence is treated solely as a disciplinary infraction, to be handled by the Israel Football Association’s internal court.
It was clear to everybody that the mechanism was a failure. Palestinian football still suffered the same hindering difficulties: 
  1.  Limitations of movement for players within the West Bank.
  2. Impossibility for the PFA clubs established in East-Jerusalem, notably two of the Palestinian Premier League clubs, to develop their activities and play at home.
  3. Limitations of movement for PFA officials (for ex. Executive Committee members) and players between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, in particular for the players selected for the Palestinian national team who cannot join training camps, play in their clubs in the Palestinian Premier League and face arrest upon returning from international football competitions.
  4. Issuance of permits for foreign delegations based on arbitrary decisions (for ex. permits issued excluding some players or the coach of a team without any explanation, permits issued only on the day of the competition, permits refused for referees and match delegates, etc…).
  5. Humiliating treatment at the border by the relevant Israeli authorities to both Palestinian players/officials and foreign delegations, including FIFA, AFC, and EUFA officials  (for ex. delayed authorization to cross even when the permits have been issued, aggressive and harassing questioning, etc…).
  6. Violent acts by Israeli security forces during football matches (for ex. stoppage of matches, training sessions, arrests) and/or closure of clubs without explanation including in areas under the authority of the Palestinian National Authority.

The Palestine Football Association (PFA) decided it has had enough, and thus had elected it had no other choice but to ask for a suspension of the Israel Football Association from FIFA based on three issues: 

  • Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players and equipment
  • Israeli Football Association (IFA) was organizing football activities on the territory of the PFA.
  • IFA’s lack of action against racism in its football
Once the knowledge of PFA's proposal became public, the Israeli government formed its own "internal" task force to countermand the proposal, and bring it to an end, putting into use its arsenal of political influence and employing its diplomatic channels; President's of influential associations and confederations were visited by Israeli diplomats trying, on one hand, to convince them the proposal was a "political issue that should not be handled by the global football governing body", and waving the "anti-semitism" threat when the first option failed.

There were, however those public opinion groups and human rights activists who refused to buy into the Israeli claims and were actively campaigning  not only to suspend IFA, but to kick Israel out of football, as had been the case with Apartheid South Africa.

Even two days before the congress, the atmosphere was almost toxic. FIFA's President Blatter already had a huge internal problem to face beside the tens of Israeli government officials who had infiltrated the grounds of the congress and were lobbying the delegates; or the hundreds of human rights activists who were besieging the grounds of the Congress demanding that Israel faces justice.

Blatter had the Presidential elections to worry about, and so did those who  wanted him saved and those who wanted to witness his demise.

The wheel of Fortuna was moving out of proportion; none of the football world tycoons seemed to take interest in the plight of the Palestinians as Fortuna was threatening to toss all up, down and about. The Palestinians had to quickly devise a plan "b' to safeguard their rights, and keep the "big guys" interested in finding a solution to the problems.

Following advice from the Presidents of all the Confederations, and other football prominent figures, the PFA proposal was amended where suspension was "suspended" from the proposal, in return for a promise that the Congress be asked to vote on the amendment that demands a neutral committee be formed by the Congress to handle all three grievances presented in the original proposal, and that proper disciplinary measures be taken within a specific time-frame against the party that does not comply. 

And while the Palestine FA agreed to these terms for the sake of keeping the peace, and giving FIFA yet another chance to solve the problem, the vote turned into a poorly orchestrated fiasco that people interested in sport politics will not soon forget:

Despite all the attempts to "ditch" the issue, The 65th Congress agreed, by an overwhelming majority as set out in its approved minutes, and with the agreement of the IFA,  that the  "FIFA Monitoring Committee Palestine-Israel", chaired by Tokyo Sexwale, be mandated by the FIFA 65th Congress to cover the three issues, but “would not handle political or territorial matters” pending an answer on “the issue of territory” which “should be decided by the United Nations”. 

Several meeting were held, much legal paperwork exchanged, and a lot of time wasted while the IFA procrastinated in an attempt to obscure the directives of  the committee and downplay its mandate. 

It was the right time for ambiguity; FIFA and the world of football were all busy with the FBI crackdown on FIFA officials. Football tycoons had more up-close and personal problems in their laps than could fit the  added problems of the Palestinians. They had voted in a committee, and this committee had one long year to sort things out until they re-formed their alliances.  

This report records the transgressions committed by the Israeli occupation during that year. Clearly, not much has changed:                            

  • On Wednesday, January 15, 2015 at 3:30 a.m, an Israeli occupation force arrested Mu'ayad Walid Ibrahim Tumar, 22 years old, holder of ID# ‎(520314139), and a football player of Beit Ummar Football Club.‎ The Israeli force raided Mu'ayad's house in Beit Ummar village, south of Palestine, and arrested him under the pretext of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli occupation troops. ‎Mu'ayad is still imprisoned pending trial.         

  • On Sunday, February 2 , 2015 at 3:30 am, an Israeli Armed Force arrested player Walid Abdullah Qasim Manasra,  30 years old , holder ID # (410 235 857), and player in Bani N’eim sports club .The Force had besieged the house of Walid’s father, Abdulla Qassem Manasra, taking Walid by force to Etzion Prison for interrogation. An Israeli intelligence officer who identified himself as “Yossi” spoke to Walid’s father by phone, afterwards, and informed him that his son Walid is in Etzion prison.Walid, who is married and father to a son and three daughters, was accused of throwing stones at Israeli forces, and until the moment this report was written, he hasn’t been tried. (014) 


  • On Wednesday 11 February, 2015 at 2:30 a.m, an Israeli occupation army force arrested Muhammad Ayman Muhammad Ikhleil21 years old, holder of  ID# (854181260), and a football player registered in Beit Ummar Football club. The Israeli occupation forces surrounded Ikhliel's house in Beit Ummar village, south of Palestine , and arrested him for a consecutive third time under the pretext of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli occupation troops. Ikhleil was arrested for the first time on the 7th of August, 2011 and sentenced to one- month and 14 days jail time. He was released on September 21, 2011 before he was arrested again on September 10, 2012 and sentenced to eight-month jail time under the same previous pretext. He has been charged of a total fines of NIS 6000 ($1500). 

  • On Wednesday, February 2, 2015 at 3:55 am, an Israeli Armed Force arrested Ex-player Salem Mohammed Mahmoud Taraarh, 47 years old, holder of ID# (911655918), and Ex-Member of the board of Bani N'eim Youth Club. Salem was taken by force from his house in the village of Bani N’eim, and was charged with throwing stones at Israeli troops. He was sentenced by the military court in Ofer camp with 7-month imprisonment and a fine of 2000 NIS (521 $)After his sentence, he was transferred from Ofer prison to Raymon prison, and His family was not allowed to visit him. (015)
  • On Sunday, February, 8, 2015 An Israeli occupation force arrested Yousef Muhammad Mahmaoud Al-Sheikh, football player of Beit 'Anan Club, 21 years old and holder of ID No# (860053990). He has not been charged, and his trial has been postponed four times already. (020)            
  • On Tuesday, 28 April, 2015 at 3:15 am, an Israeli Armed Force arrested player Muhammad Abed AL Fatah Arar, 18 years old, holder of ID# (854181260), and a football player of Beit Ummar Football club (juniors). The Israeli force surrounded Muhanad’s house in Bani N’eim, a village, east of Hebron, and arrested him under the pretext of throwing stones at Israeli occupation troops. Muhanad is still in prison pending trial. He was taken to Etzion encampment -south of Bethlehem.

       Worthy of note is that his arrest has caused Muhammad Arar, a High                  School student, to miss his GCE (General Certificate Exam).(011)

  • On Sunday, May 4, 2015 at 3:30 a.m., an Israeli armed force arrested Abdelrahman Khaled Khader Hmeidat , 25 years old, holder of ID# ‎(852931773), and a football player of Bani Ne’im FC.‎ The Force arrested Abdelrahman from his place of work in Israel, and took him to Ashkelon prison for a 40-days interrogation. He was transferred between Ofer camp and Raymon, before he was taken to Eshel prison. The military court in Ofer charged him with “incitement against the State of Israel”, and sentenced him, on March 23, 2015, a 32-months imprisonment and a fine of 2000 NIS  (521 $).  Abdelrahman was injured during his arrest, due to excessive violence by the Israeli army force which made the arrest. He was treated in captivity, and is currently detained in Eshel Prison. (013)


  • On Monday, May 11th 2015 An Israeli occupation armed force shot AL-Amari youth club fencer Rafet Abu Lebdah, 17 years old and holding ID No. (404113698). Eye witnesses confirmed that there were no clashes in the area when Rafat was shot in his left leg. The fencer himself swore that he was on his way from school to pick up his cousins when he was shot.  The injury left him unable to fence, or even walk, for a long time. 

  • On 21 May 2015, just as the solution (suggested by the Israeli goverment to Mr. Blatter) to give VIP treatment for Palestinian players was being put on the scale, the Israeli occupation tipped said scales by detaining player Sameh Maraaba for three hours on the border with Jordan. Maraaba was heading for Tunisia with the national team when this incident happened. Team members said that only by the team's refusal to leave without their player that Maraaba was finally allowed to travel. 

  • On Wednesday September 22015, at around 16h00,  an  Israeli intelligence Force arrested footballer Omar ramzi Omar za`anin  ,15 years old, and holder of ID #(211598453 ). Omar is the goalkeeper of the Palestine U16 national team, and was arrested in the old city of Jerusalem, in the vicinity of "Bab Al-Sahera". He was then transferred to the detention center of Al-Masqubiyah (Russian Compound). This was the 7th time Omar got arrested. He was charged with "inciting to violence in Al-Aqsa" before he was released at 2h00 the following day and sentenced to be "denied entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque for two successive months, with 6 months if he failed to carry out the sentence".(018)

  • On Friday  September 4 ,2015 at around 9:00 p.m., A group of Israelis settlers (estimated at 5 people, according to eye witnesses), attacked referees Abdel Noor Mohammed Abdel Jabber Khaled52  years old, citizen of Jayyous, and holder of ID #(997405352); and Rashid Ismail Mahmoud Radwan49 years old, citizen of Azzun, and holder of ID #(964390058). The attack took place near the settlement of “Carneh Shomron”, near the city of Tulkarm, while both referees were driving back from a 1st division match in which they had officiated in Al- Fara’a. 
       The settlers attacked the vehicle with stones and iron pipes, seriously                endangering the lives of its passengers. The stones and popes shattered            the front windshield, and front mirrors, which in turn led to the injury of            referee Rashid Radwan, who was hit by the glass shrapnel. (037)

  • On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, at around 4:00, an Israeli Occupation Army Force arrested Mustafa Abdellatif Mohammed Dar Tahir17 years old, holder of ID NO. # (402672893), and player of the U19 National team. The Israeli force (composed of three military jeeps and a large van, according to witnesses) surrounded Mustafa’s house in the city of Al-Bireh. The force, led by an officer who identified himself as Captain Yahia, broke into the house, vandalizing its contents, before they handcuffed and blindfolded Mustafa, then placed him under arrest. The Israeli Captain said the charges were “throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli army troops”. Mustafa is now detained at Al- Jalama prison (Jenin), pending trial on Thursday (10.15.2015). (035)
  • On 8 October 2015, the Palestinian Olympic team was heading back to Palestine from Qatar after participating in the WAFF Qualifiers, via Al-Karamah crossing (King Hussein bridge).   At around 19h30 the team (24 players and 8 Officials) arrived at the border. Procedures took about an hour and the team checked out safe for the team striker Mahmoud Wadi, a resident of Gaza, who was asked,at around 20h30, to sit aside.
  • Islam Abu Mukaddam, the team Manager,  remained in the hall waiting for the player while the rest of the team cleared customs and waited outside. The Civil Ministry and DCO were informed but nothing happened. The team waited until 23h00, when Islam asked them to leave and said he will wait with the Mahmoud.
  • Having been sitting so long waiting with the player, Islam was approached by armed security personnel in civilian clothes, (there were 5 of them around). One of them, a tall man wearing a sport shirt and jeans, told him he has to leave the hall and check out customs, and that he cannot wait inside. Islam tried to tell him he is waiting with his player who does not know whether he will be allowed to enter and not, and that -as manager of the team- he cannot leave without being certain of the well being of his player or whether he needed anything. The tall security guy was shouting and did not want to listen while Islam was asking him to just listen to him. He slapped him across the face then the other 4 came. The tall guy shoved him, and the group sent his bag through the scan machine and to the customs hall.  One bald guy wearing a golden chain around his neck came about. Islam says this guy looked as the one in charge so he tried to talk with him to no avail. Islam just wanted to give his player phone numbers and some money in case he was returned to Jordan.
  • At around 11:20 an army officer approached Islam, as the writer of this blog was speaking with him on the phone, and asked him what happened, and he reported what he has told the writer minutes before. He was then informed that Mahmoud Wadi was denied entry and that he had to go back to Jordan.
  • On Monday, October, 12, 2015, at around 5:00 a.m., an Israeli Armed Force arrested player Mohammed Khalil Saeed Sarhan, 19 years old. The Israeli force, (estimated at 20 soldiers by an eye witnesses) surrounded Mohammad’s house in Al-Thawri neighborhood in east Jerusalem and arrested him under the pretext of “throwing stones and damaging Jewish vehicles”The force took Mohammad for interrogation at Dahiyat Al-Barid Centre and informed him he will be summoned “should he carry out any acts against Israel” and that he “will be then arrested and fined an estimated value of (50000) NIS”. Mohammad was later released on the same day at 18h00. (036)
  • On Monday, October, 12, 2015, at around 5:00, an Israeli Armed Police Force arrested player Mohammed Khalil Saeed Sarhan19 years old. The Israeli force, (estimated at 20 soldiers by eye witnesses) surrounded Mohammad’s house in Al-Thawri neigbourhood in east Jerusalem and arrested him under the pretext of “throwing stones and damaging Jewish vehicles”. The force took Mohammad for interrogation at Dahiyat Al-Barid Centre and informed him he will be summoned “should he carry out any acts against Israel” and that he “will be then arrested and fined an estimated value of (50000) NIS”. Mohammad was later released on the same day at 18h00(036)
  • On 13 October, 2015 , former Palestine National Women's Team player Hamama Jamil Jorban was arrested by the Israeli authorities in her hometown of Jesr Al-Zarqa. She was interrogated about some facebook posts she made protesting racism and Israeli atrocities in Al-Aqsa. She was released later on the same day.

  • On Wednesday, October 14, 2015 at around 10:00 a.m , a “Captain Ravi” of Israeli  intelligence, contacted Mr. Hamdi  Baker Ibrahim, resident of Qalandia refugee camp, via telephone, and informed him to bring his son, the National team equipment manager Ibrahim Hamdi  Baker Ibrahim,  holder of ID# (860 086 305)21 years old,  to the Ofer military camp for interrogation. The said Captain said Ibrahim will be questioned and then released. Ibrahim did as he was asked, but he was, nonetheless, arrested when he went to Ofer, allegedly on charges of "acts of terrorism against the State of Israel". He was put to trial on Nov 18,     2015, which was postponed to Nov 26, 2015. The court acquitted Ibrahim and fined him 3,000 NIS. Though the Israeli prosecutor appealed the decision, Ibrahim was released one week after the last trial, on the condition that he pay the fine, which he did. However, he was contacted     after, to appear before the military court on December 1 2015, a date which was later postponed to Dec 26 2015.(038)

  • On Tuesday, October 27, 2015, at around 5:00 a.m., a joint Israeli Force of Border Guards and Israeli Intelligence (estimated at 30 military vehicles according to eye witnesses) arrested player Abdullah Nabil Noah Da`ana23 years old and holder of ID#(204715031).
       The Force surrounded Abdullah’s house and arrested him under the pretext        of “throwing stones at Israeli soldiers". The force took Abdullah to the                detention center of Al-Masqubiyah (Russian Compound), where he was            charged with the above accusation and sentenced to home detention for 5          days and the payment of a 1000 NIS (250 USD) fine.  

       Abdullah was released on Thursday October29, 2015 at 17h00(039)
  • On Thursday, ‎ October 30, 2015 at 2:00 a.m, an Israeli Armed Force arrested player Bashir Muhammad Abdullah Mukhtar, a midfielder in Dora Al-Qari' FC, 23 years, old and holder of ID No # (853934685). Bashir was arrested from his home under the pretext of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Beit El Israeli settlement, near Ramallah. He is still imprisoned. (025)
  • On Thursday, November 5, 2015, at around 16:30, An Israeli army soldier shot Shabab Al-Khalil FC’s Youth team player Hazem Jawad Azmi Al-Khatib, 16 years old, and holder of ID No.# (404720591). Hazem happened to be in Bab Al-Zawyeh, in Hebron, when clashes broke out. He was shot with live ammunition in his left foot, and stayed for 4 days under supervision in the Alia Hospital in Hebron (041)

  • On Tuesday, November 10, 2015, at around 1:30 p.m., an Israeli armed force (estimated by eye witnesses at 20 military vehicles and 150-200 soldiers) arrested the sport supervisor, and Board Member of Islami Qalqiliya Sports Club, Adnan Abdel Nasser Arafat Rabbi, 45 years old, and holder of ID #(946857653). 
       The force took Adnan from his house in Kfar Saba (inside Israel and close        to the Palestinian city of Qalqiliya), after blasting the doors, and messing          up the contents of the house. 

       Adnan was taken by force to Megiddo prison, and remains there without          trial, though he was informed he would be tried on November 18, 2015.            (40)

  • On Tuesday, November 10, 2015, at around 2:30 p.m., an Israeli army force (estimated at 30-40 soldiers by eye witnesses) arrested Islami Qalqiliya FC’s player, Obada Farah Rubin Samhan22 years old, and holder of ID# (853870376) from his house in Qalqiliya. After blasting the doors, messing up the house, confiscating computers and mobiles, Obada was forcefully taken to Al-Jalama prison, and a trial has been set on December 11, 2015 (44)
  • On Wednesday November 11, 2015, at around 15:30, an Israeli army force shot Thakafi Al-Bireh FC’s player Omar Akram Jobran Rjoub14 years old, and holder of ID # (406865998)

      Omar, also a player in the Joseph Blatter Academy, was shot in his left           leg during clashes with Israeli forces at the Beit El military post near                 Ramallah. He remained in hospital for 4 days. (042)

  • On Sunday, November 12, 2015, at around 14.30, Israeli Army Forces fired tear gaz canisters in the premises of Al-Khadr Stadium, near the city of Bethlehem, during a match between Al-Bireh FC and Jabal Al-Mukabber FC, in the final round of the Semi-Professional League.

      The match was postponed due to the heavy levels of concentration of tear         gaz in the premises which was decided as life threatening to football players       (043)
  • On Thursday, November 19, 2015, at around 2:00 p.m., A joint Israeli army and intelligence force, (estimated at 6 military jeeps and 30 soldiers) arrested player Hussam Imad Theeb Qarakrah16 years old, and holder of ID No.# (405001157) . The force arrested Hussam from his house in Al-Balou’ neighborhood, in Al-Bireh.
       An intelligence officer, who identified himself as “Captain Yahiya”                   threatened Hussam that he’ll “wipe that smile off his face”. Hussam is still          in Ofer prison, near Beituniya. (045)
    • On Tuesday, ‎ December 2, 2015, at 2:00 a.m., an Israeli occupation armed force arrested Naseem Muhammad Abdullah Mukhtar, player of Dora Al-Qari' FC, 21 years old, and holder of ID No # (85002473). Naseem was arrested from his house under the pretext of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the Beit El Israeli settlement near Ramallah. He is still imprisoned. (026)
    • On Thursday,‎ December 4, 2015 at 2:30 a.m, an Israeli Armed Force arrested Dora Al-Qari' FC’s player Muhammad Subhi Hamdan, 20 years old, and holder of ID No #(948356209). Muhammad was arrested from his house under the pretext of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli occupation troops. He is still imprisoned. (024)

    • The Palestine FA submitted a permit request (Southern Governorates to Northern Governorates) for Mr. Ibrahim Abu Salim (PFA Vice President) on December 7, 2015. The Isareali DCO answer was an OK with the condition that Mr. Abu Salim go through an interrogation at the Erez Checkpoint on the date of his entry (12/9/2015 at 9h00 a.m). Mr. Abu Salim waited at the Erez checkpoint from 9h00 until 11h00 a.m, only to be informed that he is being turned back to Gaza and denied entry, without any explanation.

           It maybe worth mentioning that Mr. Abu Salim has been moving between          Gaza and the West Bank without issues until this incident.                                                              

    (The writer would like to acknowledge the help of Ms. Majd Hijjeh who was a great help in collection of statistics and photos on the violations detailed in this chapter) 


    1. An article on my blog about the struggle against the occupation of Palestine which mentions your blog as well - please share and distribute.

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