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World Cup 2022: Israeli forces crack down on Palestinians celebrating Morocco victory

Police on horseback beat and drag Palestinians at Jerusalem's Damascus Gate during act of Arab solidarity
Palestinians celebrate Morocco's win at Jerusalem's Damascus Gate (Reuters)

Israeli police violently cracked down on Palestinians in Jerusalem celebrating Morocco's historic World Cup quarter-final victory against Portugal on Saturday evening.

Footage online showed Israeli forces armed with batons beating and dragging Palestinians celebrating the win outside the Old City's walls.

Officers on horseback could also be seen aggressively dispersing Palestinians, including children. 

Hundreds of Palestinians had gathered at the Old City's Damascus Gate to celebrate Morocco's 1-0 win in an act of Arab solidarity. The Damascus Gate is a traditional gathering spot for Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, but Israeli authorities have been restricting their ability to gather there to socialise in recent months.

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Palestinians held up Morocco flags, chanting "raise your hand and dance with us" while dancing dabke. One Moroccan flag was raised at the top of the historic gate.

Similar scenes were seen in Palestinian communities in Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Palestine takes centre stage

Palestine took centre stage once again as Morocco players celebrated their victory in the World Cup in Doha with a Palestinian flag.

The win makes Morocco the first African and Arab side to reach a World Cup semi-final, but many have named Palestine the real winner, as its cause continues to take prominence in Qatar.

Not long after leaving the pitch, midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri posted a photo on Instagram of himself with the Palestinian flag tied around his shoulders accompanied by a one-word caption: "Freedom". Later he gave interviews to broadcasters at the game still wearing the flag. 

With the Qatar World Cup the first to be held in an Arab country, Morocco has been backed by fans from Iraq to Algeria, who have cheered their progress into the semis.

Palestine, which did not qualify for the finals, has also seen notable support throughout the competition, especially among those from other Arab countries.

The grassroots support is juxtaposed against the normalisation deals recently signed with Israel by Morocco, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan.

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