Maccabi Tel Aviv FC Coach Steps Down over 'Security Fears'
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Spanish coach Oscar Garcia has stepped down from his post with the club over security fears due to the war in Gaza, the club said on Tuesday.
"Oscar Garcia has announced he will be leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv FC due to the current security situation," a statement on the soccer club's official website said.
The Spaniard had just begun his second stint with the Israeli club after resigning his position as head coach in 2013 to move to England, where he worked with Brighton and Hove Albion.
In his first spell in charge Oscar led Maccabi to the Israeli title in 2012/13.
Oscar's assistants Ruben Martinez and Fran Sanchez were also stepping down, the statement said.
Israel and Hamas have been locked in a violent conflict in Gaza for 50 days that has resulted in the deaths of more than 2,100 Palestinians and 68 Israelis.
Earlier this month, Israel's Football Association postponed the start of the new league season because of the violence.
But Garcia's timing is slightly awkward, coming at roughly the same time as Israel and Hamas announced that a deal had been reached for a long-term end to the seven weeks of fighting.
"I would like to thank Oscar for everything he has done for Maccabi Tel Aviv FC," the club's owner, Mitch Goldhar, said.
"When we appointed Oscar as coach we did so knowing exactly what the club meant to him and that his heart was in the right place. And it was.
"However, circumstances have led to a change of plan as such things do happen in life. We will soldier on with our mission at Maccabi thinking fondly of Oscar and wishing him well in the future," he added.
Oscar has been replaced by fellow Spaniard Pako Ayestaran, 51, who was a long-time assistant to Rafael Benitez at Tenerife, Valencia and Liverpool.
Ayestaran was most recently at Mexican side Estudiantes Tecos.
Reigning Israeli champions Maccabi lost to Maribor of Slovenia in the third qualifying round of this season's Champions League.
They play Asteras of Greece in Cyprus in the Europa League play-offs on Thursday needing to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit if they are to qualify for the group stage.
Arutz Sheva Staff contributed to this report.