Israeli ministers make controversial statements on Turkey following footballer's arrest

Following the arrest of Israeli football player Sagiv Jehezkel after a match against Trabzonspor, Israeli ministers Gideon Sa'ar and Yoav Gallant, founders of the New Hope party, have made scandalous statements.

Publication: 15.01.2024 - 13:46
Israeli ministers make controversial statements on Turkey following footballer's arrest
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In the 20th week of the Trendyol Super League, Antalyaspor and Trabzonspor played to a 1-1 draw. Jehezkel, an Israeli player who scored for Antalyaspor in the 68th minute, was arrested and subsequently suspended from the team for his goal celebration.

Jehezkel is slated to face charges for "inciting the public to hatred and hostility."


Jehezkel's arrest in Turkey elicited strong reactions in Israel. Minister Gideon Sa'ar claimed that the incident demonstrated President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's adversarial stance towards Israel.

Sa'ar continued:

"Israel should consider taking Turkey to the International Court of Justice over the occupation of Northern Cyprus, the ethnic cleansing against Greek Cypriots, the occupation of Northern Syria, and the ethnic cleansing of Kurds. Israelis should remove Turkey from their holiday destinations list and cease importing goods from Turkey."

Jehezkel also plays for the Israeli National Football Team.


In an interview with the Israeli news outlet Ynet, Jehezkel shared the backstory of the incident, saying, "I decided to make a humanitarian gesture towards the Israeli hostages in Gaza."

He added:

"Highlighting their 100-day captivity was important to me. I had no intention of provoking or making a political statement. I'm aware of Turkey's sensitivities; this was purely a gesture."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has appealed to the president of UEFA for the player's safety and release.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) issued a strong statement against Jehezkel for actions that "offended human dignity and the conscience of Turkish society."


Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, meanwhile, accused Turkey of functioning as a "practical arm of Hamas" following Jehezkel's arrest.

Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç stated that the Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched a judicial investigation against Jehezkel due to his goal celebration.

According to Tunç, the investigation began because of Jehezkel's "ugly action in support of Israel's massacre in Gaza after scoring the goal."

Gallant, in a statement on social media platform X, reminded everyone that Israel had swiftly provided aid to Turkey following last year's earthquake. He described Jehezkel's arrest as "hypocrisy and ingratitude."

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