Palestinian and Israeli children have concluded their season-long coexistence soccer initiative.
“Sporting in the Service of Peace," a program run in partnership with Adidas Israel, brought together children from third to sixth grade to play soccer together in mixed teams on the Israel-Gaza border. This was the first season the initiative resumed since a COVID-19 hiatus.
Despite heightened security tensions this week, the game included more than 60 children in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.
“Through these activities, one can see the children getting closer to one another," said Omri Horesh, manager of the project. "We see firsthand how they learn to better recognize and understand the other side. There’s no doubt that sport – and soccer in particular – is a bridge between peoples.”
Tami Hay Sagiv, deputy director general for education at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, the group that runs the project added: “At the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, we work towards building a shared future for the peoples of this region. We know how soccer and sport can bring young people together. Such projects are not just breaking down barriers, they are building trust – which is the true foundation for peace in the Middle East."
Coexistence soccer comes amid heightened tensions along Gaza border
The final match was held against a backdrop of increased turbulence between terrorist groups in Gaza and Israel.
A total of 104 rockets were fired into Israel between Tuesday and Wednesday, most by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad with some minor participation from Hamas, the IDF confirmed on Wednesday morning.
In response, Israel countered with approximately 16 airstrikes, mostly on Hamas positions, to hold the group responsible for what occurs in Gaza.