The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has expressed its concern following a violent Israeli raid at Silwan Football Club last Thursday evening, where a local meeting was broken up.
During the raid, soldiers violently detained and arrested the Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, as well as Club Manager Muhannad Shalhab and another young Palestinian. Two Red Crescent ambulances were prevented from attending to treat wounded civilians. The Club has since been forced to close.
In a strong statement of protest at Israel’s actions, the AFC yesterday insisted that “the sovereignty of the PFA must be recognised and must be defended”. It further noted that “The entire AFC Executive Committee has consistently adopted a very strong position in support of [this] principle and the AFC stands alongside the Palestine FA”.
Meanwhile The Times of Israel has described the meeting in Silwan as a “PA-led conference” and quotes an Israel’s Security Ministry statement that it was intended to advance efforts for “the Palestinian takeover of East Jerusalem”. Their account is flatly contradicted by Palestinian sources, which described the event as a seminar by the Al-Roya organisation and a social activity for local citizens.
Israel has long used the administrative provisions of the Oslo Accords to quash any cultural activity in Jerusalem that can be linked – however tenuously – to the Palestinian Authority. Previous victims have included the Arab Studies Society, the Palestinian National Theatre and Jerusalem’s 2009 tenure as Arab Capital of Culture. In addition, the neighbourhood of Silwan has been subject to extensive repression due its intended destruction by Israel to make way for its “City of David National Park”.