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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/18/14

Does The IDF Target Palestinian Soccer Players?

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James Wall
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group photo of the 2013 Palestine National Team. It was taken on February 21, 2013. anantasports.com.
group photo of the 2013 Palestine National Team. It was taken on February 21, 2013. anantasports.com.
(Image by Ananta Sports)
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Two Palestinian youth soccer players were shot and badly wounded near a check point in the Palestinian West Bank on January 31.

Ma'an, the Palestinian news outlet, reported the shootings of Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17.

The players were shot by Israeli soldiers as they were walking home from practice in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in al-Ram in the central West Bank.

Medical reports indicated that "Jawhar was shot with 11 bullets, seven in his left foot, three in his right, and one in his left hand. Halabiya was shot once in each foot."

Doctors at Ramallah governmental hospital said the pair "will need six months of treatment before they can evaluate if the two will even be able to ever walk again, at best."

Ma'an also reported that "Israeli forces opened fire in their direction without warning as they were walking near a checkpoint. Police dogs were subsequently unleashed on them before Israeli soldiers dragged them across the ground and beat them."

The story did not surface in western press outlets until Dave Zirin wrote in the Nation:

"Their names are Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17. They were once soccer players in the West Bank. Now they are never going to play sports again. Jawhar and Adam were on their way home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium on January 31 when Israeli forces fired upon them as they approached a checkpoint.

"After being shot repeatedly, they were mauled by checkpoint dogs and then beaten. Ten bullets were put into Jawhar's feet. Adam took one bullet in each foot. After being transferred from a hospital in Ramallah to King Hussein Medical Center in Amman, they received the news that soccer would no longer be a part of their futures.

"(Israel's border patrol maintains that the two young men were about to throw a bomb.)"

A week later, Zirin described the reaction he received from his original report on the shooting of the two players.

One of the sports writers asked Zirin, "Do you have any sources that are not Palestinian?"

That obvious pro-Israel and clearly racist distrust of all matters pertaining to Palestinians, was quickly underscored by that same questioner when he sent a subsequent email to Zirin, saying, never mind, I have found a report of the shootings in Ha'aretz, a Jewish news outlet based in Jerusalem.

In his March 10 story, Zirin stated flatly that he believed "members of the Palestinian soccer community are being targeted for violence by the Israeli state."

Some critics reacted to this theory by saying the targeting charge was "laughable," and "ridiculous," One writer even wrote he would "reach out to The Nation directly to agitate for dismissal."

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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