A Galway based Palestine solidarity group has written to the Irish Football Association in Belfast calling for the upcoming international friendly between Northern Ireland and Israel to be called off.
The match is due to take place at Windsor Park on Tuesday September 11, however the Knocknacarra Palestine Network - formed by a number of residents from around the city and county, to add their support for the Palestinian cause through solidarity actions - has said the fixture is "far from friendly as there is nothing friendly about Israel to do with soccer". Sinn Féin has also called for the match to be cancelled.
The IFA is quoted as saying that it "has no intention of cancelling Northern Ireland’s international challenge match against Israel", but the KPN pointed out that major sponsors, including Adidas, have withdrawn their support of the Israeli soccer team. "The Argentinean soccer team cancelled their fixture with Israel," the group said. "We want Irish teams to do the same."
The KPN is highlighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction campaign which aims to put pressure on Israel because of its occupation of Palestinian land and its treatment of the Palestinian people.
"Legitimate criticism of Israel by the United Nations is ignored by Israel as it flouts numerous UN resolutions, and contravenes International Law with impunity," a spokesperson for the group said. "An international BDS campaign has been called for by more than 170 organisations in Palestine. Civil society, trade unions, companies, churches, around the world are joining. Galway City Council and the Seanad recently agreed motions along these lines.
The group also pointed out how, during the summer, a children’s soccer team from Gaza was due to come to Ireland to participate in a tour of friendly matches. The tour had to be cancelled as the Israeli administration refused to give them visa clearance. Meanwhile in March this year, two boys were shot by the Israeli army in the West Bank. One died, the other, Hamam Alsafadi aged 14, was injured.
The Knocknacarra group has written to the IFA to inform it of the situation. It has asked groups in the North to support the boycott. Galwegians who wish to raise the issue with the IFA can do so via [email protected].