Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has met with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter to show him how Hamas uses football fields to play offense against Israel…with rockets.
Netanyahu presented photographs showing missiles being launched at Israel from the heart of civilian populations in Gaza. The aerial shots from November 16, 2012 show Fajr-5 missile launch sites in the Gaza football stadium. A photograph of a building that was hit by missiles in Rishon Lezion and a video clip that was taken by civilians on March 10, 2012, which shows a football match between Be’er Sheva and Um Al-Fahm being suddenly halted due to rocket fire in the stadium area, was also shown.
“This is a double war crime. You’re firing on civilians and you’re hiding behind civilians,” the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu also referred to recent media interviews by Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub in which the latter said that if the Palestinians had an atomic bomb, they would have already used it on Israel and that Israel is the enemy of the “Palestinian people.”
This is in response to Blatter’s comments urging Israel to ease restrictions on the movement of palestinian players and officials, and the concern that football is being used as a political tool against Israel.
I guess Bibi could also have also shown Blatter that some of the palestinan soccer players look just as comfortable around guns as they do on the soccer field.
As far as I can tell, Blatter did not seem overly impressed with Bibi’s demonstration.
It’s unclear if Netanyahu’s presentation made an impression on the top world soccer official. What we do know is that in its summary of Blatter’s visit, the official FIFA website did not convey Netanyahu’s description of how terrorists have utilized a sporting venue from which to commit acts of war. Instead, Blatter took the opportunity to criticize Israel for impeding the free travel of Palestinian soccer players.
The summary of Blatter’s visit on FIFA’s website included this quote from his Jerusalem press conference:
“I explained to him [Netanyahu] the content of the mandate I’ve been given by the FIFA Congress in May. In a nutshell: to ease the movements of teams, referees – but also football equipment – in and out of and within Palestine,” Blatter said.
“I’ve asked for the Prime Minister’s help and he said yes, but with truth and fair-play. He also asked me to help him so that football is not used as a political tool,” Blatter added, but the FIFA website did not provide details from Netanyahu’s presentation showing how the soccer field was used “as a political tool.”
By contrast, the Prime Minister’s Office provided these additional details on the focus of the Netanyahu-Blatter conversation.
If only he had the balls to do the right thing and condemn this cynical, evil use of sport.