An Israeli football player has been arrested and fired from his club in Turkey after he dedicated a goal to the hostages taken by Hamas.
Turkish police detained Israeli player Sagiv Jehezkel and questioned him on Monday over a message he displayed on his wrist during a top-tier match alluding to the passage of 100 days since the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel, state media said.
Turkish Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said prosecutors were investigating Jehezkel on a charge of ‘inciting people to hatred and hostility’ for displaying a note written on his bandaged wrist saying ‘100 days, 7.10’, alongside a Jewish Star of David emblem.
Jehezkel has been released pending a trial, and Israeli media reported that a private plane has been sent from Israel to pick him and his family up so they could return him home.
Turkish media reported that his club’s boss, Sinan Boztepe, fired him and said: ‘Our national values are above all else. No matter how much the player brings to the club. We will terminate his contract.’
Despite the severe consequences, Israeli media reported that Jehezkel did not regret making the gesture, and said: ‘It was a gesture for the Israeli hostages in Gaza, a humanitarian gesture.
‘It was important to me to point out that they have been in captivity for 100 days. I didn’t want to provoke anyone. I know Turkish feelings, it was just a gesture.
‘I only wrote the number 100 and symbolized half a heart with my hand.
‘This shouldn’t incite anyone. On the contrary, it should inspire empathy for the people who have been trapped there for so long.
Fighters from the Islamist group Hamas stormed through Israeli communities on October 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 240 hostages.
The devastating war reached 100 days on Sunday, with Israeli tanks and aircraft hitting targets in southern and central Gaza amid fierce gun battles in some areas.
The Gaza health ministry said the death toll from Israeli strikes is almost 24,000, with more than 60,000 wounded.