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War on Gaza: Israeli footballer Sagiv Jehezkel leaves Turkey over 7 October message

The Antalyaspor footballer left the country on Monday following the incident which saw the player's brief detention
This handout photograph taken and released by Turkish news agency DHA (Demiroren News Agency) shows Antalyaspor's Israeli forward Sagiv Jehezkel displaying a bandage on his wrist reading "100 days. 07/10" after scoring a goal during Turkish Super league match between Antalyaspor and Trabzonspor at Corendon Airlines Park Antalya Stadium, in Antalya on January 14, 2024. (AFP)
Antalyaspor's Sagiv Jehezkel displaying a bandage on his wrist reading '100 days. 07/10' after scoring a goal during a Turkish Super League match at Antalya Stadium, 14 January 2024 (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

An Israeli football player left Turkey Monday evening  after he flashed a message written on his wristband marking 100 days since the 7 October assault by Hamas during a football match on Sunday, interior minister Ali Yerlikaya said.

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation against Israeli football player Sagiv Jehezkel on charges of "inciting people to hatred and hostility" over a gesture, Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said on Sunday.

Later on Sunday, police detained the Turkish Super League club Antalyaspor footballer in Antalya. Turkish public news channel TRT Spor said that the footballer was released after providing his testimony pending investigation. The channel, in a now deleted article, added that he would be deported soon. However a Turkish source familiar with the issue told Middle East Eye that Jehezkel had decided to leave the country his own accord. "He isn't being deported," the source said.

The football club, in a statement on Monday, said that Jehezkel would leave the country in a private jet in the evening. 

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On Sunday night Antalyaspor announced they would cancel Jehezkel's contract.

Jehezkel, 28, showed his bandaged hand after scoring a goal against Trabzonspor on Sunday. "100 days, 7.10" was written on his bandage, referring to the Hamas attack on 7 October.

The message on the wristband has been largely seen by the Turkish public as a support of Israel’s deadly operation in Gaza for over a hundred days, which has killed at least 24,000 Palestinians, most of them children and women.

Jehezkel told police in his official testimony that he wasn’t trying to incite anyone.

“I am not a pro-war person. And after all, there are also Israeli soldiers captured in Gaza,” he said.

“I am someone who believes that this 100-day period should end now. I want the war to end. That's why I showed the sign here," he said. "I am someone who has nothing to do with politics."

Jehezkel said that he wanted to draw attention to the fact that the war should end now.

Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant condemned the detention of the player in a post on X, reminding Turkey that Israel “was the first country to stand up and extend aid” during last year’s devastating earthquakes. 

Another Israeli footballer, who plays for Istanbul's Basaksehir football club, is also facing a disciplinary action after posting a message on the 100th day. 

Eden Karzev shared a post on Instagram, which said "bring them back", referring to the Israeli hostages held by Hamas since the 7 October attack. 

Basaksehir said that they had launched an investigation against the player for posting a message on his personal social media account that "contradicts the sensitivities of our country", and asked for his written defence.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comments from a Turkish source which dispute the report that the player had been deported.

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