Israeli Soccer Player Sagiv Jehezkel Detained in Turkey


An Israeli soccer player was briefly detained by the Turkish authorities and suspended by his club after he displayed a message of support for Israel during a game on Sunday.

The player, Sagiv Jehezkel, a 28-year-old wing for the top-division club Antalyaspor, flashed the message after he scored the tying goal in a match.

To celebrate, Mr. Jehezkel jogged to the corner of the field, where photographers were positioned, and pointed to a message on a band of tape on his left wrist. The message, handwritten with a black marker, included a six-pointed Star of David and “100 days, 7.10” — a reference to the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7.

His gesture spread quickly on social media, stirring outrage online among fans and even the president of his club, who called his action “propaganda” in a series of posts on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

Mr. Jehezkel pointing to a message on his wrist that included a Star of David and the words “100 days, 7.10.”Credit…Adem Akalan/DHA, via Associated Press

Turkish prosecutors detained Mr. Jehezkel after the game for “instigating hatred and enmity among the public.” He was released on Monday, Turkish broadcasters reported, and was expected to return to Israel later in the day.

Mr. Jehezkel, in his statement to prosecutors, said his message was a call for the war to end, according to Turkish news media.

On Sunday, the president of Antalyaspor, Sinan Boztepe, said the club’s board had suspended Mr. Jehezkel from the team. In a statement, the club charged that Mr. Jehezkel had “insulted the values of Turkey.” Team officials also said they would seek to terminate the three-year contract Mr. Jehezkel signed when he joined Antalyaspor in September. The Turkish soccer federation also said that it had initiated disciplinary proceedings against him.

Away from the field, the company that sponsors Antalyaspor’s jerseys declared it would withdraw the support if the club didn’t take action against Mr. Jehezkel, and a small group of fans gathered in front of Antalyaspor facilities in the southern province of Antalya Sunday night and chanted for his expulsion from the city, calling him a “Zionist dog.”

In a separate incident, another club in the top league, Basaksehir, began disciplinary proceedings against an Israeli player, Eden Karzev, after he shared a post on Instagram calling for the release of the hostages held in Gaza.

Turkish society is broadly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, but support for Hamas is limited, according to a recent poll. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has publicly expressed support for Hamas since the start of the war, saying that it is not a terrorist organization but a group of “mujahedeen” fighting to liberate their country, and he has leveled harsh criticisms of both Israel and the Western countries who support it.





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