Israeli soccer player departs Turkey after detention over message

Sagiv Jehezkel, an Israeli soccer player, left Turkey on Monday following police questioning about a message on his wristband during a match. This message referred to the 100 days since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

Publication: 16.01.2024 - 11:49
Israeli soccer player departs Turkey after detention over message
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The Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced on social media that Jehezkel, playing for Antalyaspor, departed at 5:15 p.m. (1415 GMT).

After an overnight detention by Turkish police, Jehezkel was released on Monday. Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc stated that prosecutors were investigating him for "inciting hatred and hostility." The investigation centered on a note on his bandaged wrist, reading "100 days, 7.10" with a Star of David emblem.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed Jehezkel's release and his return to Israel on the same day. Israel's Defense Minister condemned the detention, accusing Turkey of aligning with Hamas.

Antalyaspor announced Jehezkel's release, stating he would return to Israel with his family via private jet. The team also reported terminating his contract for "acting against national values."

Jehezkel, 28, displayed the message after scoring in a Super Lig match against Trabzonspor. Antalya prosecutors began investigating his "ugly gesture supporting Israel's Gaza massacre," according to Tunc's social media post.

Jehezkel denied these accusations. "I am not pro-war," he stated on broadcaster NTV. He explained the gesture was a call for the release of Israeli soldiers held in Gaza, hoping for an end to the conflict.

In a related incident, Istanbul club Basaksehir announced disciplinary action against Israeli midfielder Eden Kartsev for a social media post deemed offensive to "sensitive values" in Turkey. Kartsev also faced brief detention on Monday.

On Oct. 7, Hamas militants killed 1,200 people in a cross-border assault into Israeli communities, taking 240 hostages. Israeli officials confirmed these details. As the conflict reached its 100th day, Israeli forces targeted areas in Gaza. The Gaza Health Ministry reported 24,100 Palestinian fatalities and nearly 61,000 injuries since Oct. 7 due to Israeli strikes.

Protests supporting the Gaza hostages occurred in Israel and globally on Sunday.

Responding to Jehezkel's detention, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant criticized Turkey's stance on the Gaza conflict. He reminded Turkey of Israel's aid after last year's earthquake, labeling Jehezkel's treatment as hypocritical and ungrateful.

Antalyaspor awaits court proceedings before finalizing Jehezkel's contract termination, stated club spokesman Murat Ozgen. Club Chairman Sinan Boztepe expressed dismay over Jehezkel's actions, which he said disregarded local and national sensitivities.