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Palestinian Football
December 3, 2012 8:24 AM   Subscribe

A soccer stadium in Palestine was destroyed recently and a number of European based footballers signed a letter condemning the act. Palestine has historically been a difficult place to be a footballer, up to and including being imprisoned, although Mahmous Sarsak has since been freed. Despite all of this, it looks like at least the Palestinian women’s game is on the up and up.
posted by josher71 (35 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
...why the hell are Israel in UEFA rather than AFC?
posted by Dysk at 9:00 AM on December 3, 2012


Because a lot of countries in Asia don't want Israel in it.
posted by riruro at 9:06 AM on December 3, 2012


You might mention that Hamas was using the soccer stadium as a weapons cache and firing rockets from there. This is hardly a secret; it was widely reported at the the time of the attacks e.g. here, here, and here.

Here's the IDF's own report on it (scroll down to November 19, 2012), including a picture of the stadium and identifying the targets of missiles fired from there. This was the origin of the Fajr-5 rockets which hit Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:13 AM on December 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


I didn't mention it because I didn't know that it was a confirmed weapons site. Thanks for the links.
posted by josher71 at 9:19 AM on December 3, 2012


Disgracefully, Israel were expelled from the AFC in 1974.

There is a parallel with Derry City, a Northern Irish team that play in the Republic of Ireland league. What was the only Catholic team in the Northern Irish league were essentially forced out when Protestant teams refused to play them due to perceived security concerns and the (Protestant) police force refused permission for matches to be held at their ground.
posted by kersplunk at 9:27 AM on December 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


You might mention that Hamas was using the soccer stadium as a weapons cache and firing rockets from there.

Your first link is to an Israeli propaganda machine; the second to CNN, who swallow and regurgitate whatever the IDF tells them; the third links to a reader comment in The Guardian. Come back when you have some real evidence please.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:17 AM on December 3, 2012


Paul Danahar is actually the BBC Middle East Bureau Chief and the link goes to The Guardian's live blog, not "a reader". But go on, where do you think the missiles were fired from?
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:26 AM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where he thinks the missiles are originating from is irrelevant. The point indirectly being made is that Israel tends to claim, sans evidence, that rockets were fired from locations that are either occupied by international observers or just happen to be key infrastructure points. Note: this doesn't even address the fact that 99% of Hamas rockets are basically hobby rockets that would have a hard time breaking more than glass if they hit a house.

I wouldn't be surprised in this case though, if the rockets were fired from the stadium. Fajrs are bigger (~30 feet long iirc) and need more space to be utilized properly.
posted by Redgrendel2001 at 10:42 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the IDF's own report on it (scroll down to November 19, 2012), including a picture of the stadium and identifying the targets of missiles fired from there.

That link is an airphoto of Gaza, with the stadium coloured in shocking red and two x's superimposed on it. I can produce equally airtight evidence that Hamas are firing missiles from the KFC in Keokuk, Iowa. With PowerPoint. In six minutes.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:01 AM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Redgrendel2001: "Note: this doesn't even address the fact that 99% of Hamas rockets are basically hobby rockets that would have a hard time breaking more than glass if they hit a house. "

Even if your statement was true (which is not), I believe you're suggesting Israel should refrain from defending itself until Hamas has the opportunity to procure more effective ordinance.
posted by gertzedek at 11:28 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


[A couple comments removed, cool it.]
posted by cortex at 11:51 AM on December 3, 2012


Note: this doesn't even address the fact that 99% of Hamas rockets are basically hobby rockets that would have a hard time breaking more than glass if they hit a house.

Qassams (the generic name for most of the rockets produced in Gaza) are around six feet long with an explosive warhead. When they hit a building they typically destroy at least a room or two - as well as anyone in the vicinity. Here, for instance, is a report on an apartment building struck by a Palestinian rocket. The building is still standing but you can see that the top two floors have been extensively damaged. Three of the people inside were killed; many others have been hospitalised.

The reason that relatively few people have been killed by these rockets is that they are practically unaimed and, recently, the Israelis have been able to shoot many of them down. The rockets themselves are intrinsically lethal and the warheads are often loaded with shrapnel so as to increase civilian casualties. Claiming that they "would have a hard time breaking more than glass" is not only false, but trivialises what is actually a war crime.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


And if rockets hadn't been fired from them, the IDF would've found another reason to destroy the stadium, because after all the point is to make the Palestinians suffer, put them on a diet, not to make Israel safe.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:23 PM on December 3, 2012


1. Freddy Kanoute!

2. The letter condemning the act was also protesting Israel's hosting the UEFA U-21 Championships next summer. If UEFA decide to pull it from Israel, looks like England might host it. Also apprently Cabaye didn't actually sign on to the petition, just expressed some sympathy.

3. One of the few things I will ever give Sepp Blatter any credit for (other than corruption and kissing ass for money) has been FIFA's continued support for Palestine and the PFA, and development of women's football in the Middle East. FIFA has already pledged its support in rebuilding the stadium in Gaza.
posted by kendrak at 1:35 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I believe you're suggesting Israel should refrain from defending itself until Hamas has the opportunity to procure more effective ordinance.

Israel can defend itself in several ways, from air raid shelters and iron dome to counter offensive strikes.

As long as those measures that do not involve missile attacks on Palestinian targets are largely successful, which they are, the use of overwhelming force in the knowledge that it will kill scores of civilians as collateral damage is unconscionable.

Arguments that Israel has the right to defend itself with strikes that cause such high rates of civilian casualties and infrastructure damage are bull in my view. Israeli politicians no longer bother to maintain the fiction these "defensive" attacks are not part of a longstanding policy of retaliation.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:03 PM on December 3, 2012


MuffinMan: "Israeli politicians no longer bother to maintain the fiction these "defensive" attacks are not part of a longstanding policy of retaliation."

Retaliation and deterrence are two different concepts.
posted by gertzedek at 2:39 PM on December 3, 2012


Hypothetically, yes. To dead civilians, no.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:41 PM on December 3, 2012


I have no informed opinion on whether rockets were indeed fired from the stadium, or who is right or wrong in this conflict. But Zirin is right when he asserts that an attack on the sports infrastructure is an attack on hope.

This sentence from the article linked by OP summarizes the criticism of Israel in this thread: "I have no fucking clue if the thing Israel did was justified or not, but I'll sure as shit behave as if it wasn't."
posted by gertzedek at 2:53 PM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Muffinman wrote: Israel can defend itself in several ways, from air raid shelters and iron dome to counter offensive strikes[....]

The "Iron Dome" costs tens of thousands of dollars per interception and is only somewhat effective. As for air raid shelters, do you appreciate that people in the South of Israel have around fifteen seconds warning before a missile hits? How far can you go in fifteen seconds? That's how close you need to be to an air raid shelter at all times, day and night, at home, in school, or at work. Do you have a family? Imagine trying to grab all your kids out of their beds and get them into a shelter in fifteen seconds. This is an intolerable situation.

Arguments that Israel has the right to defend itself with strikes that cause such high rates of civilian casualties [...]

Just out of curiosity, what do you think the civilian casualty rate is (say, per Israeli attack and/or relative to the combatant casualty rate) and what are you comparing it to when you say that it's "high"?

[...] and infrastructure damage [...]

In this case the infrastructure was being used as a missile base. The laws of war are very clear on this: civilian infrastructure used to shield military targets is itself a target. Hamas' use of civilian buildings as ammo dumps and launching pads was in itself a war crime.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:19 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was surprised by the list of footballers who signed since a number of them are biggish stars. It seems other than the anti racist platitudes, much of football in the major European leagues seems very free of political speech.
posted by josher71 at 4:07 PM on December 3, 2012


Oh my goodness. Oh my gosh.

I think someone has been telling porkies.

No offense to any Jews or Muslims.

Here's what "the letter condemning the act" says:
We are informed that on 10 November 2012 the Israeli army bombed a sports stadium in Gaza, resulting in the death of four young people playing football, Mohamed Harara and Ahmed Harara, 16 and 17 years old; Matar Rahman and Ahmed Al Dirdissawi, 18 years old.
Well, that's odd. The Israelis only started "Operation Pillar of Defense" on November 14th. The soccer stadium was bombed on November 16th. Hmm. Well, maybe the footballers got the date wrong. Where's the stadium? A bit of searching on Google Maps located it - you can see the two distinctive spoked roundabouts to its north and to its east. OK, let's find a report of the young men's death ... yes, the names match the ones in the letter, and here's a report from NYT which helpfully says where and when the deaths took place. Huh. Not playing soccer after all, imagine that.

What actually happened was that "militants" fired an anti-tank missile at a Jeep; the Israelis responded by shelling "a hill on the Gaza side of the border where a group of militants was monitoring the Israeli forces"; then "civilians who were gathered in a mourning tent nearby, including several teenage boys, ran to the scene to help the wounded militants and were themselves hit by subsequent shells." This account is from one of the actual "militants". I frankly find it hard to believe that four young men (aged 17, 19, 20 and 20 in the NYT account; but 15, 17, 18 and 20 elsewhere; and 16, 17, 18 and 18 in the letter) hanging around a group of "militants" were not "militant" themselves, but if they say that they were in church a mourning tent at the time I suppose we had better believe them.

Here's a map of Gaza (sadly better than Google Maps') with streets marked. The stadium is the bright green rectangle to the right of the breakwater, near where Al-Thawra St meets Al-Aqsa street. According to the Jerusalem Post the Palestinian attack and the Israeli response took place near Nahal Oz. Nahal Oz is on the Israeli side of the border on the botom right of that map; its name is in Hebrew letters. As you can see, it's on the opposite side of Gaza.

In summary: the young men were not in the stadium. They weren't playing football. If they weren't part of the group firing missiles at Israelis, they were at least hanging around them. Someone's telling great big lies.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:16 PM on December 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Apropos football, Osher Twito of Sderot was playing football when a Qassam hit him.

Let's see these hypocrites get into more dudgeon over the loss of life and limb than the loss of mere property.
posted by ocschwar at 7:02 PM on December 3, 2012



As long as those measures that do not involve missile attacks on Palestinian targets are largely successful, which they are, the use of overwhelming force in the knowledge that it will kill scores of civilians as collateral damage is unconscionable.


Iron Dome doesn't work very well when it's foggy. Not just the rockets. The Infrared detection doesn't work as well, and then the residents of Sderot don't even get their 10 seconds to seek shelter.

IDF escalated last month (partly) in order to get Hamas to expend their rockets while the weather was still in Iron Dome's favor.

Keep that in mind.
posted by ocschwar at 7:05 PM on December 3, 2012


[Folks please see the standard disclaimer we put in any and all threads about even loosely related I/P topics. If they don't go decently, we'll have fewer of them. Be decent to each other.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:15 PM on December 3, 2012


I frankly find it hard to believe that four young men (aged 17, 19, 20 and 20 in the NYT account; but 15, 17, 18 and 20 elsewhere; and 16, 17, 18 and 18 in the letter) hanging around a group of "militants" were not "militant" themselves, but if they say that they were in church a mourning tent at the time I suppose we had better believe them.

Well guilt by association! That's good enough that we can start shelling, right?
posted by Dysk at 1:04 AM on December 4, 2012


Come now. Surely you can find a better riposte than that! Four youths playing soccer in a prized stadium have apparently metamorphosed into four adults hanging around an anti-tank mortar on a Saturday night. That's a difference which needs to be acknowledged, don't you think?
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:29 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just out of curiosity, what do you think the civilian casualty rate is (say, per Israeli attack and/or relative to the combatant casualty rate) and what are you comparing it to when you say that it's "high"?

OK. My definition of high is this. Between September 2000 and September 2012, over 6,500 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. Some of those will have been combatants, of course. But 1,338 were children. During the same period, 500 Israeli civilians were killed, of which 85 were children. Because it's the easiest like for like comparison, compare minors with minors. Palestinian children are killed at a rate of 15x that of Israeli children. [Source] This is not a charter for killing more Israeli children to level up the numbers. You used the word intolerable in relation to civilian deaths or fear of attack in Israel. I see no reason why it is any more tolerable in Gaza or the West Bank.

The strike rate per attack is irrelevant. It really is. Israeli forces kill a lot of Palestinian civilians, and kill a lot of children. Regardless of how hard they may try to hit military targets only, they still kill a lot of civilians. The Israeli leadership understands the risks of collateral damage when it attacks heavily populated areas in Gaza or the West Bank.

For the most recent set of attacks, the data are this: more than 100 Palestinian civilians dead, of which 37 were children and 14 were women. On the Israeli side, there were 4 civilian deaths. [Source]

Like all I/P conversations, this one could quickly become WELL HE STARTED IT and about accusations of WAR CRIMES, and neither side covers itself in glory in this respect. Rather than argue the inarguable over the internet, it is simpler to focus on what it ultimately boils down to.

This boils down to the value of a human life. One expects one's own side to put a premium on the value of its own citizens. But the data doesn't lie: if one believes Israel's actions to be justified, one believes that the killing of between 15-25 Palestinian civilians for each loss of an Israeli civilian is acceptable, whether as deterrent, defense, retaliation or all of the above. I do not. I find it unconscionable, hence my comments.

The cost of Iron Dome is not relevant, in my view, especially when attacks on Palestinian targets are accompanied by destruction of infrastructure and lowering of standards of living that are at least as costly. The reliability of specific elements of Israel's defences and evolving technologies are also not relevant, unless one wants to strengthen the point that modern defense technologies tip the balance more in Israel's favor in regards assymetric rates of civilian deaths. The data I have chosen show the longer term picture.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:07 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


. Palestinian children are killed at a rate of 15x that of Israeli children.

First off, 15 times 0 is 0.

Secondly, that itself is irrelevant. The number of Israeli children being killed is low precisely because Israel bombs rocket squads when they're detected, and periodically bombs the rocket stores.

A rocket store containing 20 rockets is bombed. Shrapnel goes into a window of a house next door, hits a gasoline can, sets a house on fire, and kills a child.

Now look at the stats:

Number of Israeli children saved because the rockets are destroyed: possibly as high as 100.
Number of Israeli children killed: 0.
Number of Palestinian children killed: 1.

Which ratio do you care about?

This is not hypothetical, but the way. This happened during this war.
posted by ocschwar at 6:25 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I see no reason why it is any more tolerable in Gaza or the West Bank.

Because 15 times 0 is 0.

Hamas has the option of simply not launching the Qassam rockets.
posted by ocschwar at 6:30 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The number of Israeli children being killed is low precisely because Israel bombs rocket squads when they're detected, and periodically bombs the rocket stores

And that doesn't reinforce the point that Palestinian lives are given cheaply in the name of Israeli defence?

Hamas has the option of simply not launching the Qassam rockets.

I don't subscribe to the narrative that Palestinians are the architects of all attacks on them, that Palestinian civilians should pay heavily for attacks made by Hamas, nor that untargeted Qassam attacks belong in some special class distinct from supposedly targeted missile attacks that cause high levels of civilian casualties. I understand your point, but I doubt there is middle ground on this one and I'll buck out.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:02 AM on December 4, 2012


Hamas has the option of simply not launching the Qassam rockets.

...and similarly, Israel has the option of not launching military strikes on Palestine. And yet, in both cases...
posted by Dysk at 7:06 AM on December 4, 2012


The number of Israeli children being killed is low precisely because Israel bombs rocket squads when they're detected, and periodically bombs the rocket stores

And that doesn't reinforce the point that Palestinian lives are given cheaply in the name of Israeli defence?


No, it does not. That's just ridiculous.

If Palestinian lives were given cheaply, Israel would not have spent money on the Iron Dome, and would just go to conventional war every time a rocket attack happens.




I don't subscribe to the narrative that Palestinians are the architects of all attacks on them


Nobody here does.
That is a straw man.

Palestinians are the architects of all attacks by Palestinians.
They have the option of not doing that.

that Palestinian civilians should pay heavily for attacks made by Hamas, nor

Hamas DOES subscribe to that notion. Take it up with them.

nor that untargeted Qassam attacks belong in some special class distinct from supposedly targeted missile attacks that cause high levels of civilian casualties.

Then you don't subscribe to the Geneva Conventions.

Qassam rockets are targeted at Israeli civilians.

Israeli attacks are targeted at the Qassam squads.

Under international law (which I suggest you read before invoking), that makes them a special and distinct class. (Called a war crime, that is.)
posted by ocschwar at 7:11 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


...and similarly, Israel has the option of not launching military strikes on Palestine. And yet, in both cases...


Yes. Israel has the option of letting Hamas's Qassam attacks continue unabated.
A ridiculous and contemptible option, one which will not be exercised.
posted by ocschwar at 7:11 AM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


MuffinMan: "The Israeli leadership understands the risks of collateral damage when it attacks heavily populated areas in Gaza or the West Bank."

The correct way to put it is "Hamas understands the benefits of collateral damage when it places military equipment in heavily populated areas in Gaza".
posted by gertzedek at 6:50 AM on December 5, 2012


This is allegedly a Palestinian-produced video of their attack on the Israeli Jeep on November 10th. The supposed soccer-players must have been somewhere nearby, because everyone agrees that they were killed when the Israelis returned fire.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:48 PM on December 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


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