The Israeli soccer player whose professional contract was abruptly terminated by a Turkish club after he drew attention to the plight of Israeli hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza landed in Tel Aviv on Monday evening, where he gratefully declared, “there is nowhere like Israel.”
The arrival of Sagiv Jehezkel in his homeland brought to an end a nightmare that began on Sunday, after the Israeli winger scored an equalizing goal for his team, Antalyaspor, against Trabzonspor in the Turkish league contest.
After scoring in the 68th minute, Jehezkel, who only signed for Antalyaspor last September, ran to the touchline where, as part of his celebration, he displayed a bandage wrapped around his wrist to the camera bearing the words “100 days. 07/10” alongside a Star of David — a reference to the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel.
Predictably, Jehezkel’s gesture resulted in a furious reaction in Turkey, where the government of President Recep Tayyip Erodgan enthusiastically supports Hamas, which it describes as a “liberation” organization. Insults targeted at Jehezkel circulated widely on social media while a group of Antalyaspor fans gathered at the club’s training ground bellowing the slogan, “Zionist dog.” The club’s chairman, Sinan Boztepe, quickly dismissed Jehezkel from the team. “I watched with sadness and surprise that Sagiv Jehezkel acted against the sensitivities of Antalya, Antalyaspor, and our country,” Boztepe posted on X/Twitter. Separately, the Caglayan Group, a company which sponsors the team’s jersey, said it would withdraw its support unless Jehezkel was dismissed from the team.
Following Jehezkel’s departure from Turkey on a private plane, Turkey’s Interior Minister, Ali Yerlikaya, expressed satisfaction in an X/Twitter post.
“Antalyaspor’s Israeli football player Sagiv Jehezkel left our country as of 17.15,” he wrote. “I would like to point out once again that Turkey is always on the side of all the oppressed and the Palestinian people.”
Prior to his departure, Jehezkel was taken into custody where his phone was confiscated. Following his release, Turkey’s Justice Minister, Yilmaz Tunc, said an investigation had been launched into the player’s “ugly action supporting Israel’s massacre in Gaza.” It is unclear whether Jehezkel would face criminal charges in Turkey were he to return there.
Speaking to broadcaster NTV following the incident, Jehezkel said he “did not act to incite or provoke anyone.”
“I am not a pro-war person,” he said. “There are Israeli soldiers held hostage in Gaza. I am someone who believes that this 100-day period should end now. I want the war to end. That’s why I showed the message here.”
Israeli politicians slammed the Turkish action. “When there was an earthquake in Turkey less than a year ago, Israel was the first country to stand up and extend aid that saved the lives of many Turkish citizens,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant wrote on X/Twitter. “The scandalous arrest of the soccer player Sagiv Jehezkel is an expression of hypocrisy and ingratitude. Through its actions, Turkey serves as the executive arm of Hamas.”
As well as Jehezkel, another Israeli soccer player in Turkey is facing disciplinary proceedings. The Istanbul club Basaksehir said it would act against against the Israeli midfielder Eden Kartsev for harming “sensitive values” in Turkey. Kartsev was also briefly detained on Monday about a post on Instagram highlighting the plight of Israeli hostages, state media reported.
‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters
Posters slamming Israel and decrying Canada’s suspension of funding to UNRWA were found at the Thornhill, Ont., offices of Melissa Lantsman, a pro-Israel and Jewish Conservative MP who serves as deputy leader of the Official Opposition. “Blood on Your Hands,” “Stop Arming Israel” and “Fund UNRWA Now” were among the messages found taped to […]
IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed
IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi called on the ultra-Orthodox public to mobilize for the current and future wars, a position at odds with their historic role in the state, in which they enjoy near blanket exemptions from military service.
“In these challenging days, there is one thing that is very clear: Everyone should mobilize for the defense of the homeland,” Halevi said.
He added: “This is a different era, and what was before it will certainly be re-examined. The IDF has always sought to bring into its ranks from all sections of Israeli society. This war illustrates the need to change. Join the service, protect the homeland. We have a historic opportunity to expand the sources of recruitment for the IDF at a time when the necessity is very high. We will know how to create the right solutions and conditions for any population that will join this noble mission.”
The issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF has been a hot button issue since the state’s establishment in 1948 and, in more recent years, the cause of wide scale backlash against the community. As part of an agreement when the state was founded, the ultra-Orthodox public was exempted completely from service. However, as the years progressed and the population grew exponentially, critics of the policy decried the unfairness of it.
A bill last week was introduced by the ruling Likud Party that called for an increase in military service time, particularly for reserve forces, yet failed to discuss the ultra-Orthodox issue. Backlash from both opposition and coalition members was swift.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the time said, “The ultra-Orthodox public is dear and loved and contributes a lot to the State of Israel, and it is now essential that it also take a more significant part in the tasks of defense and security. This move should happen out of dialogue and discussion and not by coercion or, God forbid, by defamation. Religious Zionism proves that it is possible to combine Torah study and observance of minor and severe mitzvot together with military service at the front. My ultra-Orthodox brothers, we need you!”
Halevi’s comments were his first on the highly contentious issue.
The post IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas
A legal brief documenting the kidnapping, rape, torture and executions of Israelis who are being held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza has been filed at the International Criminal Court by the Canadian-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. The 1,000-page dossier documents the brutality of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, which killed […]