Palestine: Football Player Mahmoud Sarsak Set Free

Palestinian football player Mahmoud Sarsak has been set free yesterday [July 10, 2012]. The Facebook page Team Palestine publishes images from his welcome in Gaza. Arrested on July 22, 2009, when trying to reach his club in the north of the Occupied Territories, Sarsak had been detained since then as an “enemy fighter” but with no charge against him.

Palestinian footballer Sarsak on his way to Gaza

Palestinian footballer Sarsak on his way to Gaza. Photo credit: Team Palestine, Facebook

A massive welcome for Sarsak in Gaza

A massive welcome for Sarsak in Gaza. Photo credit: Team Palestine page, Facebook

In March, Sarsak joined the hunger strike of around 2,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, and his fasting lasted more than 80 days. His efforts were encouraged by Eric Cantona's open letter to UEFA's president Michel Platini and FIFA's president Joseph Blatter asking Israel to release Palestinian players detained in violation of international human rights conventions.


  • From AP:

    Dozens of Islamic militants fired rifles in the air Tuesday in a rousing homecoming for a member of the Palestinian national soccer team who was released by Israel after being held for three years without formal charges.

    The player, Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, had staged a hunger strike for more than 90 days to press for his release, winning support from international sports organizations.

    Israel accused Sarsak of being active in the violent Islamic Jihad group, a charge he denied while in custody.

    However, senior Islamic Jihad officials were present during a welcoming ceremony for him in Gaza City on Tuesday, and one of the group’s leaders, Nafez Azzam, praised the soccer player as “one of our noble members.”

    Later Tuesday, as Sarsak approached his family home in the Rafah refugee camp, dozens of Islamic Jihad gunmen fired in the air from SUVs and motorcycles. Women waved black Islamic Jihad banners from nearby homes and streets were decorated with huge photos of the player.


    By the way, news of Sarsak’s release received modest attention in most Palestinian Arab media, but it was plastered all over Islamic Jihad’s Palestine Today as well as their terror wing the Al Quds’ Brigades newspaper,Saraya, with no fewer that fourfeatured articles in each Islamic Jihad paper.

    Now, why would Islamic Jihad be so much happier about Sarsak’s release than, say, Hamas?

    Here’s the Al Quds Brigades poster celebrating Sarsak, in the section of its site dedicated to “Jihadist graphics”:

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