Israeli footballer charged in Turkey with ‘inciting hatred’ for proclaiming solidarity with hostages

Sagiv Jehezkel shows his writsband message
Israel international Sagiv Jehezkel was detained for questioning by police after displaying a message in support of the hostages - Demiroren News Agency

Turkish authorities have charged Israel’s Sagiv Jehezkel with inciting hatred for displaying a message marking 100 days since the Oct 7 Hamas terrorist attack on his country when scoring for Antalyaspor.

Jehezkel celebrated equalising in his side’s 1-1 Super Lig draw against Trabzonspor on Sunday by pointing to a bandage on his wrist that included the words “100 Days 7.10” next to a Star of David.

Antalyaspor's Sagiv Jehezkel points a message in his bandage that reads: "100 days. 7.10"
Antalysapor are investigating whether they can terminate Jehezkel's contract over his message of support - Adem Akalan/AP

The 28-year-old Israel international was arrested before being released pending a trial, with his club suspending him and announcing they were speaking to lawyers about the possibility of terminating his contract.

Turkey’s justice minister, Yilmaz Tunc, accused Jehezkel of “openly inciting the public to hatred and hostility”, posting in a statement on X that the player had engaged in “an ugly gesture in support of the Israeli massacre in Gaza”.

The Turkish Football Federation also condemned a gesture it said had “disturbed the conscience” of the Turkish public, which is almost entirely Muslim and among which there is widespread opposition to Israel’s military action in Gaza.

Jehezkel, who joined Antalyaspor days before last year’s Hamas terrorist attack on Israel and kidnapping of around 250 people, told police he had simply been calling for an end to an ongoing war in Gaza triggered as a result.

According to the DHA news agency, he said: “I am not pro-war. I want this 100-day process to come to an end. I want the war to end.”

Jehezkel continued: “I have never engaged in anything related to politics since my arrival. I have never disrespected anyone since the day I arrived. The point I wanted to draw attention to was [the need] for an end of the war.”

His detention sparked outrage in Israel, with foreign minister Israel Katz calling on the international community and sports groups to take steps against Turkey and its “political use of violence and threats against athletes”.

“Whoever arrests a football player for a show of solidarity with 136 captives who are more than 100 days with the terrorists of a murderous terrorist organisation, represents a culture of murder and hate,” he said.

Defence minister Yoav Gallant called Jehezkel’s detention “scandalous”, writing on X: “In its actions, Turkey serves as Hamas’ executive arm.”

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