Israeli soccer player Sagiv Yehezker, who was suspended by top Turkish club Antalyaspor for an on-field protest in support of hostages held in Gaza, has returned to Israel after being briefly detained by police. I returned to Japan.
Ehezker, who was in police custody in Antalya, was suspended over the weekend by Antalyaspor for showing a bandaged wrist with the message “100 days, 7/10” in support of Israeli hostages on Sunday. received punishment.
The bandages were a reference to Israeli hostages held in Gaza for 100 days on Sunday after a deadly attack by Hamas in Israel on October 7.
The hostage release agreement reached between Israel and Hamas at the end of November ended in six days, with more than 100 people freed. Israel believes 107 hostages are still being held in the Gaza Strip and 25 bodies remain.
Prosecutors have announced that the process has been completed, but there is no indication that the investigation into the player has been closed.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said on Monday that Mr. Ihezkel was returning to his home country.
Ehezkel returned to Israel on Monday night to cheers from local residents.
He said he's glad to be back, there's no other place like Israel, and he doesn't want to talk about his experience right away.
Jehezker (left) competes for the ball with Trabzonspor's Rayan Baniya during Sunday's Antalyaspor vs. Trabzonspor match.
Antalyaspor vice president Arkan Evren said in a statement that legal proceedings are underway to terminate the contract with the 28-year-old Israeli footballer, Turkish state broadcaster TRT Harbor reported.
“I did not do anything to provoke anyone. I want the war to end. This is why I gave that sign,” said a leaked Turkish police report that was widely quoted in Turkish media. According to the Book, Jehezer spoke before.
On Sunday, Antalyaspor announced the decision to suspend Ehezker from the team, saying he had acted contrary to “national values” and was “excluded from the team by decision of the board of directors.”
The club added in a statement: “The board will never tolerate behavior that violates the sensitivities of our country, even if it leads to championships or cup competitions.”
Turkish Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunci also wrote on X (former Twitter) that Yezker had committed an “ugly act in support of Israeli genocide in #Gaza” after scoring in the Antalyaspor vs. Trabzonspor game.
Right-winger Ehezker has made 13 appearances for Antalyaspor this season, scoring six goals and providing two assists.
Initially, Antalyaspor officials were unaware of the message on Ehezker's wrist and posted a photo of his congratulations on the club's social media accounts. However, the post was later deleted.
Antalyaspor chairman Sinan Boztepe said in a statement regarding 'X': “An immediate post after his goal was shared on the club's official social media accounts and the matter was immediately brought to the attention of the club.
“It has been removed. No matter what great success it ultimately brings, we want the people to know that we will not tolerate such behavior during our presidential term.”
Jack Gez/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Ehezkel played for Israel in the match against Belarus last September.
Meanwhile, Eden Karzev, another Israeli who plays in Turkish football's top flight, is under disciplinary investigation by his club Istanbul Basaksehir over social media posts.
Basaksehir told X on Monday that Karzev “violated the club's disciplinary instructions by posting on his personal social media accounts content that is contrary to the sensibilities of our country.”
The club did not reveal the specific position in question. According to Turkish state broadcaster TRT Harbor, the 23-year-old reposted an image from another account commemorating the 100th anniversary of the hostage-taking by Hamas with the hashtag “BringThemHomeNow.”
CNN has contacted Basaksehir for further comment.
This is not the first time a soccer player has been embroiled in controversy over the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Earlier this month, Algerian Youssef Attal, who plays for French club OGC Nice, was given a suspended sentence and a 45,000 euro ($49,000) fine after reposting on social media about the dispute. It was announced.
According to Reuters, citing the French newspaper Nice Matin, Attar republished a 35-second video by a Palestinian preacher who called on God to send “a dark day on the Jewish people.”
Turkey became the first Islamic country to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in 1949, a year after the founding of Israel. In bilateral relations, there is extensive cooperation, especially in the field of trade, with Turkish media reporting that the amount of cooperation reached $8.91 billion in 2022.
However, the Palestinian issue has caused repeated rifts between the Turkish government and Israel.
In 2009, at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (now Turkish President) had a heated argument with then-Israeli President Shimon Peres over the violence in the Gaza Strip. We exchanged words and said: You know a lot about killing people because it means killing people. ”
In 2010, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador in another diplomatic dispute after Israel attacked a Gaza-bound boat carrying humanitarian supplies in international waters.
Israel eventually apologized for the attack that killed nine people, and relations were mended in 2016, but the relationship ended in 2018 with the controversial relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem 60 It lasted only two years before both countries recalled their ambassadors again following public protests. Killed by Israeli forces on the Gaza border.
Relations between Turkey and Israel were improving by October 7th. President Erdogan met with President Isaac Herzog in 2022 and met Prime Minister Netanyahu for the first time at the United Nations General Assembly in September. A brief thaw in relations quickly collapsed after Hamas attacks and Israeli massacres in Gaza.
Less than two weeks after the start of the war, Israeli ambassador to Ankara, Irit Lilian, left Turkey along with other Israeli diplomats, according to Turkish media.
Galia Lindenstrauss, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv, said Turkey's sharp criticism of Israel is very popular at home and in Islamic countries, and public opinion could influence future events. He added that it was expensive. today.
“Turkish public opinion on this issue is important, and public opinion and opposition forces are calling for the government to take a tougher stance on Israel than it currently does,” Lindenstrauss told CNN. . “Clearly, President Erdogan does not have to work hard to persuade his people to support the Palestinian cause.”
Lindenstrauss said Yezker's gesture had been misunderstood and misrepresented and that it “clearly shows that Turkey and the Turkish people have little understanding of Israel's interpretation of the events that occurred on October 7.” It shows,” he added.