In an act of protest against Gilad Shalit’s invitation to attend a Barcelona-Real Madrid derby, Gazans on Sunday held a “protest game” outside the Red Cross headquarters in Gaza, Channel 2 News reported.
During the mock game, which was organized by Palestinian Authority Arabs who served time in Israeli prisons and had been freed, 22 local youths played against one another while wearing the shirts of the two Spanish clubs. Those present condemned the Catalan club’s decision to invite Shalit to the game, and claimed that this constituted an act of injustice to the thousands of PA Arab prisoners who are still serving time in Israeli prisons.
Several weeks ago Hamas reacted furiously to the invitation extended to Shalit, demanding that FC Barcelona keep him away, and urging Muslim media not to broadcast the game if the Israeli attended.
"We call on all Muslim, Arab and Palestinian media not to broadcast this game if Shalit attends," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
"FC Barcelona's invitation to the criminal Shalit so they can pay homage to him is an offence to sentiments of the Palestinian people and to Arabs and Muslims, because Shalit is an Israeli soldier who was on a tank taking part in the killing of Palestinian civilians when he was captured (in 2006)," he said.
PA soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak later said he would attend the derby, but not in the same stand as Gilad Shalit. Sarsak had been imprisoned in an Israeli jail on terrorism charges and was freed and returned to his home in Gaza after observing a hunger strike of nearly three months.
It should be noted that while terrorists imprisoned in Israel enjoy a handful of benefits that have been called by some “one big summer camp for thousands of prisoners,” Shalit was held captive in Gaza for more than five years and was not allowed even one visit by the International Red Cross.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)