Israeli soccer player Sagiv Yehezkel was briefly arrested in Turkey after local authorities accused him of “incitement to hatred and hostility” after his show of support for Israeli hostages who have been held captive in Gaza for 100 days by Hamas terrorists.
Yehezkel, a player with the Turkish soccer club Süper Lig-Club Antalyaspor, expressed support for the approximately 136 Israeli and foreign hostages by wearing a bandage on his wrist with the message: “100 dates, 7.10, and half a heart,” a reference to the 100 days of captivity for the hostages who were abducted into Gaza on Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists invaded, massacred some 1,200 people and abducted Israelis and foreigners into the coastal enclave.
Turkish authorities said the Israeli player was arrested because, they claimed, he showed "support for the massacre carried out by Israel in Gaza," referring to Israel's war against the Hamas terror group in Gaza. The IDF has been fighting against heavily armed Hamas terrorists and their operatives who are hiding among the civilian population.
In addition, Turkish soccer fans attacked Yehezkel on social media.
Sinan Boztepe, the president of the soccer club, blasted the Israeli player, who was also fired from the team.
"I will not accept such behavior, even if it costs us in winning titles,” Boztepe said. "No matter how much respect the footballer brings us, the values of the country and national honor stand above everything. We will invite him for a conversation, hear his version and say goodbye to him," the club president added.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem announced that they had succeeded in securing the release of Yehezkel from prison and that the athlete is scheduled to return to Israel on Monday.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz condemned Turkey for its treatment Yehezkel and argued that the leadership of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has turned the nation into "dark dictatorship."
“Turkey has become a dark dictatorship, which works against humanitarian values and the values of sports,” Katz stated.
“Anyone who arrests a soccer player over an act of identification with 136 hostages who have been held for over 100 days in the hands of a murderous terror organization represents a culture of murder and hatred,” the Israeli foreign minister emphasized.
Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir strongly condemned Turkey and called on Israeli citizens to respond accordingly.
"Turkey acts against Israeli actors and anything that smacks of Israeliness in Nazism. I urge Israelis not to fly to Turkey, not to buy any Turkish products, and not to support them. It is forbidden for the State of Israel and the citizens of Israel to show leniency towards Turkey. We cannot be trampled on," Ben Gvir stated.
Following a brief period of superficially restored ties, Turkish-Israeli diplomatic ties have once again, become very tense after the Turkish government openly stated its support for Hamas and falsely accused Israel of committing “genocide” in the Gaza Strip,
Turkey, which hosts several senior Hamas officials, has refused to condemn the massacre of more than 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7.
Erdoğan has instead falsely accused Israel of being a “terrorist state” and committing “massacres” against civilians despite the Jewish state’s enormous efforts in minimizing civilian casualties while fighting Hamas terrorists who cynically use civilians as human shields.
"What is the difference between you (Netanyahu) and Hitler? How do the actions of the Netanyahu government differ from the actions of Hitler?" Erdoğan asked.
The Israeli prime minister quickly responded by blasting Turkey and Erdoğan.
"Erdoğan, who is committing genocide against the Kurds and who holds the world record for imprisoning journalists who oppose his regime, is the last person who can preach morality to us," Netanyahu stated.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.