West News Wire: The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) reported that several Palestinian football players and spectators experienced choking and breathlessness as a result of Israeli troops using tear gas during a cup final game in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli security personnel used tear gas inside the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium on Thursday night in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Ram.
Three persons were taken to the hospital, while a number of Palestinian football players and spectators, including children, who had inhaled gas were treated on the field.
Ahmet Riza Demirer, the general consul of Turkey to Palestine, and Jibril al-Rajoub, the PFA president, were present at the Abu Ammar Cup final on Thursday night when Israeli troops interfered with the event.
The PFA said that the assault happened during the halftime break in the match between Markaz Balata, a club from Nablus, and Jabal Al-Mukaber from Jerusalem.
“Without prior warning, the occupation soldiers rained gas bombs on the stadium, which fell on the pitch and between the stands, where hundreds of fans, including children, were present,” the PFA said.
Fans rushed onto the pitch to get some fresh air. Tear gas is made of chemicals that can cause severe eye and respiratory pain, skin irritation, bleeding, and after long exposure, blindness.
Rajoub said that the Israeli assault was intended to harm the lives of football players and fans.
“I think those are the neo-Nazis. Targeting football players and fans, and firing tear gas on the pitch and the stadium, is a stain in the [Israeli] occupation’s face,” Rajoub said.
He added that the PFA would file a complaint to FIFA about the incident and communicate the issue with football federations in Asia and worldwide “to put an end to terrorism against sport”.
According to Rajoub, there was no conflict or altercation with the Israeli troops, who were shocked to see tear gas canisters pelting the field.
While in the stadium, he spoke to Palestine TV, saying, “We believe that this evidence can form the basis for confronting the crimes of the occupation against our people and against Palestinian sports by those neo-Nazis.”
Nearly abandoned, the match between Markaz Balata and Jabal Al-Mukaber was eventually restarted by the referee after a 30-minute break.
The goalkeeper and skipper of Markaz Balata, Saed Abu Saleem, said on Palestine TV: “This is the occupation. They want to make living difficult for Palestinians.
“The fans came to see their team playing, but the occupation does not want a child or an elderly, living a normal life like people around the world,” he said.