The attack occurred a day after FIFA stripped Indonesia from its right to host the Under-20 football World Cup after officials and fans there protested Israel’s participation.
A top Qatari official has called out “Israeli exceptionalism” in the apparent lack of mainstream media coverage on last week’s attack at a Palestinian football match.
“Israeli Occupation forces attack Palestinian football final. Had this been done by any other country it would’ve been the main headline, but it’s the Israeli Exceptionalism where it acts & it’s being treated as a country above International Law,” Lolwah Al Khater, Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation, said in a tweet on Saturday.
The Qatari diplomat’s tweet embedded a video of the attack, which showed Israeli forces firing tear gas into the Faisal Al-Husseini Stadium in Jerusalem during the Palestine League Cup Final.
The attack took place during halftime during the match between top Palestinian football teams, Jabal Al-Mukaber and Balata YC.
The assault delayed the game, which ended with a 1-0 Jabal Al-Mukaber victory.
No casualties were confirmed though tens of Palestinians suffocated as a result of tear gas inhalation.
“It was supposed to be a celebration. It was meant to be an exclamation point on a season that has been condensed to give the national team ample time to prepare themselves for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup finals,” the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) said in a statement.
The stadium’s total attendance was 2,000, representing around 25% of its capacity, as hundreds travelled from Nablus to Jerusalem for the game.
“This was an attack that was completely unprovoked and the Israeli forces were not commissioned to keep order in, or around, the stadium. Fortuitously, only three people were injured- had the stadium been at near capacity this could have resulted in the death of dozens of supporters,” the statement added.
The Palestinian football body noted that Israeli forces had carried out similar attacks around the PFA’s headquarters, though the latest assault was the first to be caught on camera.
PFA also questioned FIFA’s lack of action in responding to the ongoing Israeli ambush of football life in Palestine.
“Players, fans, and administrators alike wanted to know what FIFA would do in response not only to this attack but in regards to the murder of Thaqafi Tulkarem’s top forward Ahmad Draghmeh in December,” the PFA said.
It also went on to spotlight the ongoing detention of Jabal Al-Mukaber player Ahmad Abu Khadija, who remains behind Israeli bars without charge.
The attack occurred a day after FIFA stripped Indonesia from its right to host the Under-20 football World Cup after officials and fans thered protested Israel’s participation.
The apparent double-standard approach in responding to human rights violations have triggered uproar on social media.
“What a disgrace, you are willing to put entire energy in changing FWC U-20 Hosting Rights yet silent upon this barbaric act from Israeli forces,” one social media user said.
In another tweet, Tony Karon, Editorial Lead at AJ+, echoed: “Attention, FIFA, maybe this is an example of why so many football fans around the world want Israel kicked out of international competition?”
In a tweet, beIN Sports commentator Hafid Derradji slammed Israel’s inhumane practices in Palestine.
“The Israeli colonial forces attack the audience at Faisal Al-Husseini Stadium with gas bombs, causing dozens of suffocations. It is another stigma of no less filth on all the inhuman practices to which our proud Palestinian people are subjected to,” Derradji said.
As part of its ongoing land theft, Israel has long attempted to isolate Palestinians from sports, hindering numerous teams from being able to train and play.
Palestinian footballers struggle to find locations to play matches due to the destruction of facilities across Palestinian lands by Israeli forces. Restrictions and checkpoints also mean it is difficult for players to gather.
In 2019, Israel essentially cancelled the FIFA Palestine Cup by denying Gazan players travel permits.
This has been highlighted by rights groups as just one example of various flagrant human rights abuses committed by the occupying state in an effort to isolate Palestinians both at home and abroad.
Israel’s restrictions on the movement of Palestinians are highly repressive, with at least 700 obstacles placed around the West Bank and up to 140 checkpoints.
Palestinians and activists from all around the world have long accused FIFA of ignoring letters to suspend the Israeli Football Association’s membership.