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Palestinian Football Legend Ahed Zaqout Killed In IDF Gaza Bombing

Ahed-Zaqout

One of Palestine’s all-time football greats was killed when an Israeli bomb struck his Gaza home while he was sleeping last week.

The Belfast Telegraph reports 49-year-old Ahed Zaqout was sleeping in his apartment last Wednesday when it was bombed by Israeli forces as they continued their ferocious assault targeting Hamas and other resistance fighters.

Emergency responders rushed to the former midfielder’s aid but were unable to save his life.

Zaqout is best remembered for taking the pitch for Palestine against an all-star squad from France in a 1994 friendly. Current UEFA President Michel Platini played on the French side.

Four years later, Palestine was accepted into FIFA, the world football governing body. Goal.com reports that by 2014, Palestine had risen to 85th in FIFA’s world rankings despite having to deal with the extraordinary challenges posed by Israel’s illegal occupation, severe economic privation and, most recently, military invasion.

More than 1,800 Palestinians, most of them innocent civilians, have been killed since the war began on July 8. Another 10,000 people have been wounded, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been rendered homeless or displaced due to Israel’s bombing.

In January, two Palestinian footballers from Abu Dis FC, Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were repeatedly shot by Israeli snipers, brutally beaten and attacked with dogs as they walked home from a training session. Neither teen will ever play football again.

“There was no alarm, no identification or warning,” Jawhar told Vice.

Israeli police claim the teens were about to attack a police station.

In March, Beitin FC player Saji Darwish was shot and killed by Israeli troops in the illegally occupied West Bank. He was allegedly throwing stones at vehicles owned by illegal Jewish settler colonists.

Mona Dabdoob of the Palestinian Football Association attended the World Cup in Brazil and presented FIFA officials with a dossier listing Israeli restrictions and attacks on Palestinian players. FIFA said it would monitor alleged Israeli violations, but no sanctions would be imposed.

“I am very much concerned with the situation in the region,” FIFA President Sepp Blatter said last month. “We are heartbroken to learn that people from the football community have been killed.”

“FIFA and I personally deplore this situation and any form of violence,” Blatter added.

Haaretz reports Zaqout, who most recently coached and hosted a Palestinian sports program, was not politically involved in the conflict.

“Palestine has lost one of its best players,” Gaza sports journalist Khaled Zaher told Reuters. “He may have been the best midfielder we ever had.”

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