Israeli Soccer Player in Turkey Removed Over Gaza War Post


A leading Turkish soccer club, Basaksehir, has fined an Israeli player and moved him to a team in Israel over a social media post about hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. It was the second time this week that an Israeli player in Turkey was dismissed over a message related to the Israel-Hamas war.

The player, Eden Karzev, a 23-year-old midfielder, was briefly questioned in Istanbul earlier this week after reposting an Instagram story that called for the release of the hostages, the private Demiroren news agency reported. He was marking the 100th day since the Hamas-led assault on southern Israel on Oct. 7, during which Israeli officials say about 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage. About 130 are still being held in Gaza; some of them are believed to be dead.

The Basaksehir club said in a statement on Thursday that it had fined Mr. Karzev and decided that his career should continue outside of Turkey. It described Mr. Karzev’s post as “against the values of Turkish society.”

The Israeli soccer club Maccabi Tel Aviv announced that it had received Mr. Karzev on loan from Basaksehir until the end of 2023-2024 season, with an option to make the shift permanent. In a video, Maccabi Tel Aviv welcomed Mr. Karzev, who had earlier played in the club’s academy.

On Monday, another Israeli player, Sagiv Jehezkel, a 28-year-old winger for the top division club Antalyaspor, was also detained and dismissed from his team over a message related to the Israel-Hamas war. After scoring in a match the day before, he had flashed a message that said “100 days” next to a Star of David and the date of the Hamas attack, causing a social media uproar.

Turkish society is broadly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, though support for Hamas is limited, according to a recent poll. Still, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has publicly expressed support for Hamas since the start of the war, saying that it is not a terrorist organization but a group of “mujahedeen,” fighting to liberate their country, and he has leveled harsh criticisms of both Israel and the Western countries who support the war.

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