Published: 15 June, 2012
• I’D like readers to help highlight the appalling plight of top Palestinian national football player Mahmoud Sarsak.
The midfielder’s career was abruptly destroyed when Israel arrested him on his way from Gaza to join a Palestinian football club in the West Bank, after being issued with a permit to travel.
As soon as the then 22-year-old footballer arrived at the first crossing he was abducted.
After three years without charge, Mahmoud went on hunger strike, determined to reach freedom or death.
Israel imprisoned Mahmoud under its illegal “combatant law”, which allows it to incarcerate him indefinitely without charge.
Indeed, he has never been charged and has not been given a release date. Mahmoud has never been allowed family visits throughout his imprisonment.
Footballers in Gaza are so desperate to play, they even play barefoot because Israel has prevented shoes going into Gaza under the barbaric siege it imposes.
As the chair of Islington Friends of Yibna (IFY), I urged UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson “to take actions to save Sarsak from further irreversible health complications and possibly permanent disability and even death”.
This week, footballing organisations FIFA and FIFPro called on Israel to free Sarsak, but UEFA has been silent.
IFY has organised and participated in protests to free Mahmoud. For details of the next protest, check www.
Friends of Yibna