The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has issued a call to the Irish Football Association to cancel a friendly match between Northern Ireland and Israel, scheduled for September 11, in Belfast.
“Holding a friendly match with Israel sends the message that Israel’s indiscriminate slaughter of Palestinians is acceptable; that systematically ending the dreams of promising young Palestinians footballers is not significant,” an online petition by BDS Ireland argues.
According to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott Israel “uses international sporting events to prop up its failing image as it becomes increasingly isolated due to its flagrant contempt for Palestinian rights.”
Israel has come under greater international scrutiny after its disproportionate response to Palestinians protesters participating in the Great March for Return to demand their right as refugees to go back to the towns and cities they were forced to flee from after the creation of the state of Israel.
The protests began on March 30 and are ongoing, since then, Israeli snipers have killed over 130 Palestinian protesters, including medics and journalists, and injured around 14,000.
Human rights groups and the United Nations have condemned Israel’s use of lethal force against protesters who did not pose an immediate threat to life.
The petition prompts Ireland to follow the example set by Argentina’s Football Federation, which canceled a friendly match with Israel ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup after an international campaign asked them to say no to apartheid.
The campaign highlights the Gaza football team made up entirely of amputees and stresses the fact that the Israel Football Association includes six teams based in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The call has received the support of Irish republican left-wing political party Sinn Fein, which is active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which remains a part of the United Kingdom.