As Sarsak Faces Death, His Supporters Face Off In Solidarity Soccer

By Julie Webb-Pullman

Islamic Jihad today organised a soccer game in the road in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City, to honour – and draw attention to – the plight of Palestinian football player Mahmoud Sarsak, now in his 83rd day of an open-ended hunger strike.

Sarsak, a Rafah-born member of the Palestinian national football team who did not belong to any militant faction, was detained as an ‘unlawful combatant’ when passing through the Erez crossing from Gaza into Israel on July 22 2009. He was on his way to join his team in the West Bank, but has been held ever since without charge, or any evidence being presented against him.

He began his hunger strike in protest at his detention and classification on 15 March 2012. On Wednesday an independent doctor form the Israeli Physicians for Human Rights was permitted to examine him, and reported that he is close to death, issuing an urgent appeal for international intervention to save his life.

Today two teams faced off in a display of athletic skills and sportsmanship by concerned Palestinians, to add to that appeal to the international community’s sense of fair play, to save this footballer’s life.

So far, their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

1. The ‘Blue’s

2. and the ‘Black’s ready for kick-off

3. and they’re away!

4. Despite some fancy footwork and great defensive play

5. the ‘Blue’s not only got possession, but also the first two goals.

6. Cheers from the sidelines.

7. The ‘Black’s rose to the challenge

8. scoring

9. and saving again

10. and again.

11. to the delight of their supporters.

12. and the disappointment of ‘Blue’s fans.

13. of all ages.

14. The ‘Black’s finally claimed victory.

15. in the name of Mahmoud Sarsak, athlete, and principled political prisoner.

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