Many may not know him by his name, but his action — is somehow linked to the long list of injustices that frequently does not take center stage when it comes to Israeli abuse of the innocent.
The 25-year-old member of the Palestinian football team, Mahmoud Sarsak was finally released on Tuesday after being held for three years in an Israeli Prison without official charges.
Thereafter, this unjustifiable indictment had driven him to stage a 90-day hunger strike, earlier this year.
He was arrested in July 2009, while on his way to attend a football match. As he attempted to cross from Gaza (native city) to West Bank, where the game was being held, Israel’s security service nabbed Sarsak claiming that he planted a bomb that injured an Israeli soldier. The government did not have the appropriate evidence required for a trial, hence, Sarsak was held was in his misery for 3 years, without charges. That is the story.
Raises anguish and empathy for him to a certain extent, but one has to keep in mind that many like Sarsak still rot, without formal charges, in various prisons around the country.
A weakened Sarsak had this to say,
“I thank God and all the athletes of the world,”
He surely has Blatter and FIFA to thank though. As his condition worsened, Sepp Blatter intervened and requested Israel’s football federation to immediately mediate on the behalf of the player with the authorities. Ex Manchester United legend Eric Cantona was among a few others that had signed a petition calling for his freedom.
Jubilant Palestinians greeted Sarsak on his first day out of prison rejoicing as if they were victorious over the oppressors, but these sort of random arrests are quite common throughout the territories.
For the moment, the center of attention is Mahmoud Sarsak but soon, all this excitement will soften as news of other atrocities will continue to pour in.
And the world remains as it always has been – hesitatingly observant. My friends, this was not only a moment to celebration for Sarsak & family but also a moment that the entire football community can dwell in.