Another Turkish Soccer Club Ends Contract with An Israeli Player over His Posting on Gaza Hostages

Adem Akalan/DHA via AP, File
Antalyaspor’s Sagiv Jehezkel points a message in his bandage that reads: “100 days. 7.10” as he celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during a Turkish Super Lig soccer match between Antalyaspor and Trabzonspor in Antalya, southern Turkey, Jan. 14, 2024.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s leading soccer club Basaksehir announced Thursday it has ended its contract with Israeli player Eden Karzev following a disciplinary probe of his social media post calling for the release of hostages held in Gaza by the Hamas militant group.

The club’s decision came days after another Israeli player, Sagiv Jehezkel, was briefly detained in Turkey and questioned for allegedly inciting hatred after he expressed solidarity with the hostages after scoring an equalizer during a top-division game.

The Antalyaspor winger returned to a cheering crowd in Israel on Monday from the Turkish coastal city of Antalya where he played.

Karzev was also briefly questioned by police in Istanbul after he re-posted a message on social media that marked the hostages’ 100 days in captivity with the hashtag “BringThemHomeNow.”

Basaksehir then launched a disciplinary inquiry on grounds that his action was “contrary to our country’s sensitivities.”

In accordance with the clubs’ disciplinary instructions, the player was fined and it was deemed appropriate that he continue his career abroad, Basaksehir said in a statement after the probe.

The two Israeli players’ actions were considered to be supportive of Israel’s offensive in Gaza even though both Jehezkel and Karzev said their messages were intended as calls for an end to the Israel-Hamas war that erupted after the unprecedented Oct. 7 attack by Hamas and other militants from Gaza on southern Israel.

There is widespread public opposition in Turkey to Israel’s actions in Gaza and overwhelming support for Palestinians. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Israel of acts verging on “genocide” while describing Hamas as a group fighting for liberation.

Jehezkel’s detention meanwhile, caused outrage and widespread condemnation in Israel.