‘Mockery’: UAE slammed for funding Israeli stadium on site of 1956 massacre

The illegally occupied village of Kafr Qasim witnessed one of several massacres committed by the Israeli regime to establish a Jewish state.

The UAE has reportedly signed an agreement with Israel to establish a football pitch in the occupied city of Kafr Qasim, which witnessed a bloody massacre in 1956.

According to Israeli media outlet Ynet, the UAE finalised the deal this week in an agreement signed with the Zionist state’s Minister of Regional Cooperation Issawi Frej.

Built on the rubble of the massacre, the 8,000-seat stadium is set to be named “Khalifa” and will be fully financed by Abu Dhabi.

The news has sparked outrage domestically and globally, with many expressing anger over the UAE’s continuous backing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Social media users pointed to the fact that the UAE is building the stadium “on the ruins” of the Palestinian village that witnessed the horrific massacre.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera journalist Tamer Almisshal tweeted: “The fall is bottomless! The UAE is funding the construction of an Israeli stadium on the ruins of the Palestinian village of Kafr Qasim, which witnessed the massacre committed by the occupation against 51 Palestinians.”

Echoing the same sentiments, Doha-based Al Jazeera anchor Jamal Rayyan tweeted: “Following the scandal of its purchase of the ‘Hapoel’ club, the Emirates intends to build a new football stadium in Israel on lands that witnessed an Israeli massacre…where is the Emirates heading?”

The recent report comes just days after Frej revealed that an Emirati businessman is in talks to buy the Israeli Hapoel Tel Aviv Football Club. The name of the Emirati businessman was not revealed as Frej told Israeli radio that a deal is expected to be signed within a year.

“The perpetrators of the massacre were brought to a trial that ended in an amnesty less than a year later, and the commander of the operation was fined only one penny! The UAE continues the mockery of Palestinian blood, and chooses the same place to be a stadium,” tweeted Palestinian journalist Muna Hawwa.

Palestinian writer Majed Zebda said players will be playing on the blood of the massacres’ victims. 

“As ifMohamed bin Zayed aims to cover up the crimes of the occupation and obliterate the pains of the bereaved. God gave him great treasures, so he subjugated them to support ‘Israel’,” added Zebda, pointing the blame at the UAE’s president.

The UAE and Bahrain both normalised ties with the Israeli regime in 2020 by signing the Abraham Accord – a controversial agreement brokered by the former US Donald Trump administration.

Ties between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv have since expanded, in a move many Palestinians described as a betrayal to the cause.

Months into the accord, the UAE’s football association and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for sports cooperation, including the “launch of development initiatives that contribute to supporting the game in the two countries”.

Kafr Qasim massacre

The illegally occupied village of Kafr Qasim witnessed one of several massacres committed by the Israeli regime to establish a Jewish state.

According to Palestinian media, Israeli officers had ordered indigenous villagers to mow down the land and shot them dead in the process. The bodies of at least 49 Palestinians, including 17 children as young as seven years of age, were then piled up.

Palestinians were not allowed to commemorate their martyrs until the 10-year anniversary of the massacre in 1966. To date, the Zionist state has not been held to account for the killings as it continues its illegal occupation of Palestine.

Sports apartheid

In addition to ongoing land theft by Israel, Palestinian athletes face ongoing obstacles when participating in competitions. 

Palestinian footballers struggle to find places to play due to destruction of facilities across Palestinian lands by Israeli forces.

In 2019, Israel essentially cancelled the FIFA Palestine Cup by denying Gazan players travel permits. This has been highlighted by rights groups as just one example of various flagrant human rights abuses committed by the occupying state in an effort to isolate Palestinians both at home and abroad.

Israel’s restrictions on the movement of Palestinians are highly repressive, with at least 700 obstacles placed around the West Bank and up to 140 checkpoints.

Palestinians and activists from all around the world have long accused FIFA of ignoring letters to suspend the Israeli Football Association’s membership.

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