Hamas Anger at Gift for Schalit
Hamas has boycotted the Barcelona soccer team over a gift given to Gilad Shalit. Schalit, who was held captive by Hamas for several years, was given a complimentary ticket for a Barcelona game, AP reports.
Schalit writes a newspaper sports column for the Hebrew-language daily Yediot Aharonot.
Hamas officials confirmed that TV stations in Gaza will not broadcast Barcelona matches, and newspapers in the region will not write about the team. The team is normally very popular in Gaza.
A Gaza organization for Arabs jailed in Israel termed Schalit “a murderer and a criminal” and questioned why Barcelona would wish to “honor and thank him.”
Sports associations in Gaza have asked to rescind the invitation to Schalit as well. “We are dismayed to learn the great team of Barcelona will host Gilad Shalit to the Clasico, Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, on October 7th, while more than 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners remain rotting [in Israeli prisons],” said a petition signed by dozens of athletics clubs.
The petition referred to Schalit as “one of the Israel Occupation Force soldiers” and said that Barcelona’s invitation showed “political support” for Israel. “Hosting Gilad Shalit is like parading a SADF [South African Defense Force] soldiers (sic) during the 1980s at a European soccer match. Would you have done that, F.C. Barcelona?” it concluded.
Schalit was kidnapped by Gaza terrorists in 2006 from a base in southern Israel. He was released in October, 2011 in exchange for more than 1,000 terrorists held in Israeli prisons, including several convicted of mass murder.
According to AFP, Barcelona team officials have clarified that the invitation for Schalit was not meant as a political gesture.