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It's time to hold the Israeli Football Association to account

15 338 299

Ten years ago, I was a professional football player and a member of the Palestinian national football team at the peak of my career. But on July 22, 2009, Israeli soldiers arrested me while crossing from Gaza to the West Bank to play a match. Israel not only robbed me of my career and my passion, but also my freedom.

The Israeli authorities accused me of being a "terrorist" - a claim which remained completely unsubstantiated and unproven right up to the day I was released - three years later. During the final stages of my wrongful imprisonment, I spent three months on hunger strike.

Throughout my ordeal, I received many messages of support from athletes across the world who called for my immediate release. When you are stripped of your rights, unlawfully imprisoned and banned from seeing your family and friends, global solidarity like the kind that I received during those dark days is incredibly important. But the need for solidarity with Palestinian football players and the Palestinian people as a whole, did not end when I walked out of Israeli prison. In fact, that solidarity is needed now more than ever.

I was not the first and will not be the last Palestinian football player who has been the subject of Israeli repression. Just over a year ago on March 30, 2018, the career of promising young Palestinian football player Muhammad Khalil Obeid was destroyed in a flash........

© Al Jazeera