Palestinian soccer player Mohammed Khalil, who shot by Israeli snipers while taking part in the March of Return protests on the Gaza border, has issued a new call for the Argentine national football team and its captain Lionel Messi to cancel their friendly match with Israel scheduled for June 9.
Khalil's appeal echoes a campaign by supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to cancel the friendly match. The campaign, which is using the hashtag #NothingFriendly, has highlighted the Israeli Army's use of live ammunition to killed and wounded scores of protesting Palestinians.
Since Palestinian refugees began the Great March of Return on March 30, every Friday protesters who gather near the fence that separates them from their ancient towns and villages, or attempt to cross it have been shot either in the head and chest or the legs. The open fire policy has been deemed by many as a shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy has resulted in over 100 deaths and thousands of wounded.
International human rights organizations and the United Nations have condemned Israel’s use of lethal force against civilians who pose no immediate threat to life or severe injury, the only situation in which international law allows for deadly force.
Mohammed said: “I call on the Argentine ream and especially captain Lionel Messi, because he is very popular in Palestine, particularly in the Gaza Strip to stand in solidarity with Palestinians and to boycott the scheduled game with Israel, which is occupying our land,” he says in a video.
Mohammed's kneecaps were damaged when an Israeli sniper stop´him during peacefully protest near the fence in April. The moment he was shot was captured on video and supports the claims by eyewitnesses that he was not engaging in any threatening behavior.
“I was taking a selfie to remember the march. I was directly targeted by Israeli occupation snipers. I was shot in my right and left legs. My knee cap area had to be removed," Mohammed explained.
According to a petition in support of the campaign, the match is whitewashing Israel’s crimes and is “therefore extremely unfriendly to human rights.” The request also highlights other human rights violations, such as restriction of movement that affect all Palestinians, especially those living in Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade for over a decade, and the ever-expanding Jewish only settlements in the West Bank.