Dozens of professional football players have signed a statement protesting the decision of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to stage the European under-21 championship in Israel next year.

The statement, which was released by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against Israel, claims that in light of the recent Israeli operation in Gaza, holding the tournament in Israel would be "seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values."

The decision to host the games in Israel is “yet another stain on the world’s conscience” and expresses “solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom”, the statement says.

President Michel Platini has said he has no security concerns regarding the tournament and wrote to the Israel Football Association in June asserting that the country "earned the right to host this competition through a fair, democratic vote."

The draw for the eight-team competition, which will run from June 5-18 in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya and Petah Tikva, was made last week in Tel Aviv.

The statement was not signed by any of the players due in Israel.

UEFA declined on Friday to comment on the development. 

Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense in an effort to root out the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and bring about an end to the unremitting rocket attacks that have been launched against the Jewish state.

In an operation of self-defense, Israel carried out a series of targeted and highly surgical operations in order target the terrorists responsible for the attacks, all the while avoiding civilian casualties at all costs.