Khadamat Rafah is set to play Balata FC in the West Bank on Wednesday but without the travel permits the game is unlikely to take place.
Israel has denied travel permits Monday to most players from the Gazan football team, Khadamat Rafah, which has been trying to cross through Israel for months into the West Bank to play the local championship final against a rival Palestinian club.
“We think that this is clear evidence that this Israeli occupation is cruel but from our side, we keep raising it at all the levels of FIFA. We insist that this is our right and we’ll continue exerting every effort to allow this team to do this match,” the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, told The Associated Press.
Khadamat Rafah is set to play Balata FC in the West Bank on Wednesday but without the travel permits, the game is unlikely to take place as scheduled and will have to be delayed for the third time this year.
Since July, the team has applied for permits but has been repeatedly denied by the Israeli regime. In August, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said the ban is a violation of international law and of FIFA’s principles which say everyone has a “right to play.”
The organization also said that Israel prevents footballers from Gaza to travel to West Bank due to security issues but actually this is “merely a political cover for the Israeli collective punishment practice against the Gaza strip.”
Palestine’s football chief said they have long lobbied FIFA to sanction Israel for what it says are its efforts to restrict the movement of Palestinian players. He slammed the withholding of permits and pledged to hold the game.
Under the Palestinian Football Association’s terms, the winners of the Gaza league play the West Bank champions in a two-leg final, one in the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank. The Gaza game took place earlier this year and this week’s game was to take place near the West Bank city of Nablus.
The winner of the final game will go on to compete in the Asian Champions League.
The Palestine Cup had been suspended for years until 2016 when FIFA reached understandings between Israel and the Palestinians over the movement of athletes. Tournaments in 2017 and 2018 took place as planned.