The leaders of the Palestinian Football Federation this week postponed for 48 hours the second leg of the final of the Palestine Cup scheduled Saturday at Hebron stadium. Feverish negotiations ensued to allow all players of the Khan Yunis Shebab, a Gaza club, to go to Hebron after Israeli authorities denied entry to nine of the 19 members of Khan Yunis for alleged “safety reasons.”
On Tuesday, the games were allowed to go ahead, in Hebron, as Ahly al-Khalil defended its title with a 1-1 draw, capping a 2-1 aggregate victory after a 1-0 win in the first leg. This is important because the team who wins the title goes on to participate in the Asian Games and other regional competitions.
And Israel’s interference, therefore, was also important. After the beginning of the Intifada in Jerusalem last October, it has introduced new restrictions on the transit of younger Palestinians, including soccer players, going back on its word on the guarantees that had offered to the Palestinian Football Association.