Gazans stage soccer protest at Schalit's Barcelona visit

October 7, 2012 21:31

GAZA - Palestinians freed from Israeli jails held their own version of the Barcelona-Real Madrid soccer match on Sunday to protest at the presence of Gilad Schalit at the actual fixture.

The five-a-side kick-about in Gaza comprised mostly of Palestinian ex-prisoners that Israel swapped for Schalit, who was abducted by Gaza militants in a cross-border raid in 2006 and held for over five years in solitary confinement.

Wearing the shirts of the two Spanish giant clubs, the Palestinians called on hosts Barcelona to deny Schalit access to Sunday night's match. They thought he had been invited by the club, although Barcelona has denied this.

"Soccer is a sport that carries the message of freedom and love but we are against it when an (Israeli) soldier is invited, because it equates between the victim and the aggressor," said Yasser Saleh, who spent 17 years in Israeli jails.

Barcelona said they had accepted Schalit's request to attend Sunday's clash between two of the world's most successful outfits. But when Palestinians thought the club had initiated the invitation, they vowed to protest.

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