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Irish Women Basketball Players Protest Israel’s Genocide In Gaza

Above photo: Israeli basketball team posing with IOF soldiers ahead of their match with Ireland.

The Irish athletes refused to shake hands with Israeli players.

And five players on the team refused to play the match against Israel.

Defying heavy pressure and the threat of sanctions and expulsion, the members of the Irish basketball team, playing in Riga, Latvia at the Women’s EuroBasket qualifier match, refused to shake the hands of the opposing team, Israel. Five members of the Irish team decided not to play in the match at all. The move was in response to allegations of antisemitism from the Israeli team against the Irish team and Basketball Ireland, which had raised objections to playing against Israel amid its ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people.

Ahead of the match on February 8, progressive organizations in Ireland including Irish Sport for Palestine, People Before Profit, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), had urged Basketball Ireland to boycott the match with Israel organized by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). However, FIBA Europe had threatened Basketball Ireland with hefty fines, around the tune of EUR 180,000, and expulsion from EuroBasket 2024 and 2027, if they didn’t play the match against Israel.

Days ahead of the match, the Israeli team posted photos of their players posing with members of the Israeli Occupation Forces and with a visible gun next to the court, provoking international outrage.

Progressive sections in Ireland have been at the forefront of the Palestinian solidarity initiatives and also lead the campaign in Europe to prosecute the Zionist state of Israel for the war crimes it committed in the ongoing genocidal war in Gaza. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from Ireland Clare Daly and Mick Wallace have fiercely opposed the ongoing war in Gaza and criticized the EU for not making genuine efforts to stop the war in Gaza and ensuring the freedom of Palestine. Earlier, Clare Daly MEP has also urged the Basketball Ireland and Ministry of Sport, to call on FIBA to ban Israel ahead of the Ireland vs Israel qualifier match in Riga.

Irish Sport for Palestine has demanded that FIBA Europe cancel matches with Israel, after they invited armed IDF combatants to share the basketball court with them, advertised war, and made denigrating statements about the Irish team and Ireland.

“FIBA Competition Regulations include safeguarding the safety of the players, officials, and fans, not allowing menacing, intimidating or unsportsmanlike behavior, and restricting the advertising of war or arms-related products to protect basketball values.”

People Before Profit said that “sometimes it is claimed that politics must be left out of sport. This was the very reason why some argued that Ireland had to play against South Africa when it was under an apartheid regime. Yet the sports boycott of South Africa was part of a wider global solidarity movement that eventually helped bring an end to the apartheid regime. In the case of Israel, the argument makes little sense because the Israeli team has been openly consorting with the Israeli Defense force who have been engaged in a murderous campaign in Gaza. The Israeli women’s basketball team held a training session with soldiers from the Israeli Army, complete with guns on display, ahead of their clash with Ireland at the weekend. On this ground alone, the match should not go ahead.”

People Before Profit also saluted the five Irish players who have refused to play with Israel.

In the ongoing genocidal war in Gaza, Israel has already killed more than 27,947 people and displaced more than 1.9 million people.

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