Leicester City football players Hamza Choudhury and Wesley Fofana celebrated their FA Cup final victory over Chelsea by waving the Palestinian flag after the final whistle on Saturday evening.
The move was a show of solidarity with Palestinians who have faced intense bombardment, air strikes and persecution from Israeli forces in recent days, causing the death of over 140 people.
Palestinians have come out in protests across many cities in recent days, sparked by an Israeli court’s decision to evict a number of families living in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
Online, social media users and fans have praised the football players for their act of solidarity and amplifying the voices of Palestinians.
Congratulations on your historic win. Your support will never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/NiemSXSQcs
— FootballPalestine.com (@FutbolPalestine) May 15, 2021
Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, penned a letter to Leicester City Football Club, addressed to Choudhury and Fofana thanking them for their support.
“Allow me, on behalf of the Palestinian government and people, to extend our profoundest gratitude that, in your moment of FA Cup triumph, Hamza Choudhury and Wesley Fofana, used the historic occasion to show solidarity with the plight of the Palestinian people,” the letter read.
“For a people beleaguered, occupied and under intense bombardment for daring to stand up for their rights, your gesture could not be more timely and appreciated,” it added.
Hamza Choudhury of Leicester City football club showing solidarity with and dedicating his FA cup victory to Palestine by wearing the Palestinian flag and holding it with teammate Wesley Fofana. #FreePalestine #PalestineUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/1UWS4Ujefy
— Saif (@isaifpatel) May 15, 2021
Former Sevilla striker, Fredrick Kanoute, who also identified with Palestinians during his playing time, hailed the duo, in a tweet; Choudhury and Fofana just made this final even more amazing with the Palestinian flag 🇵🇸 👏🏾
Choudhury and Fofana just made this final even more amazing with the Palestinian flag 🇵🇸 👏🏾
— Fred Oumar KANOUTÉ (@FredericKanoute) May 15, 2021
Muslim News, Nigeria’s most authoritative Islamic newspaper also tweeted:
Muslim News Nigeria appreciates the Leicester City @LCFC
duo, @HamzaChoudhury1 and @wesleyfofana for defeating #Abramovich's club, @ChelseaFC (key #Israeli lackey) and identifying with #Palestine on that historic @FACupFinal final. #Palestinelivesmatter #NakbaDay #FreePalestine pic.twitter.com/7oMoZZA0k1
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) May 16, 2021
Earlier on the day, tens of thousands of protesters in London took to the streets to protest against Israeli aggression, and the targeting of protesters in the West Bank using rubber coated steel bullets and tear gas.
Middle East Eye’s correspondent on the ground described thousands of people holding placards emblazoned with “Stop bombing Gaza” and “Free Palestine,” while police patrolled in the area and helicopters flew overhead.
The football game and the protests in London come on the anniversary of the Nakba, or the Catastrophe, in 1948, when more than 800,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes to make way for the creation of the state of Israel.
Over the past week, Israeli forces have led a campaign of attacks on Palestinian protesters, including the storming of the highy revered al-Aqsa, where skunk water was sprayed at worshippers and sound grenades thrown.
Fair play to Leicester. Particularly fair play to Hamza Choudhury for sneaking a Palestinian flag 🇵🇸 into the celebrations
— Max Edwards (@OneChapterMore) May 15, 2021
This week, protests in solidarity with Palestine have also taken place around the world, including in New Zealand, Italy, Iraq, Germany, Syria. Meanwhile, in France, planned protests were banned.
Russian billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich donated more than $100m to a far-right Israeli organisation that has been accused of displacing Palestinian families from Jerusalem, bank documents claim.
This is particularly significant because the Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is funding the Zionist Settler movement whose attempts to grab Palestinian homes in Jerusalem sparked the latest massacre by Israel#Gaza #SaveSheikhJarrah https://t.co/5kJONqgYFh
— CAGE (@UK_CAGE) May 15, 2021
The documents were part of a 22,000-page cache of reports sent to US authorities by banks between 2000 and 2017 that were leaked to Buzzfeed news. They show that over the last 15 years, four companies run by Abramovich donated $100m to Elad, a right-wing Israeli settler organisation dedicated to “strengthening Israel’s current and historic connection to Jerusalem”.
The organisation has been responsible for scores of Palestinian evictions and has in some cases fought several expensive, decades-long legal battles to do so, particularly in Silwan, a town annexed by Israel in 1967 that houses some 55,000 Palestinians.
Abramovich, who became an Israeli citizen in 2018, has a fortune estimated to be between $12bn and $13bn, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and in recent years has purchased several luxury properties in Israel.
Palestinian land has regularly been confiscated by the Israeli government to create national parks, with the backing of groups like Elad.
The City of David National Park, funded and managed by Elad, includes the densely populated Palestinian neighbourhood of Wadi Hilweh, home to over 4,000 Palestinians that have been barred from doing any construction or renovations on their homes or properties without a building permit, which due to the national park categorisation, are systematically denied.
Middle East Eye
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