Turkey detains Israeli player Jehezkel over '100 days' message

Sagiv Jehezkel
Antalyaspor's Sagiv Jehezkel shows his bandage after scoring a goal against Trabzonspor. Photo: Reuters

Turkish police detained Israeli soccer player Sagiv Jehezkel overnight and freed him on Monday after questioning him over a message he displayed on his wrist during a match alluding to the passage of 100 days since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said prosecutors were investigating Jehezkel on a charge of "inciting people to hatred and hostility" for displaying a note written on his bandaged wrist saying "100 days, 7.10", alongside a Jewish Star of David emblem.

Israel's Foreign Ministry said Turkish authorities released Jehezkel from police custody and that he would return to Israel on Monday, and its Defence Minister denounced Turkey over the detention, accusing it of acting like an arm of Hamas.

Jehezkel's southern Turkish soccer team, Antalyaspor, also said he had been freed and a private jet would take him and his family back to Israel, and that he was being kicked off the team for acting against Turkish national values.

Jehezkel, 28, held his clenched fist aloft to display the message after scoring a goal for Antalyaspor against Trabzonspor in Turkey's Super Lig on Sunday.

Antalya prosecutors launched an investigation into Jehezkel "due to his ugly gesture supporting Israel's massacre in Gaza after scoring a goal", Tunc said on social media platform X.

"I did not act to incite or provoke anyone. I am not a pro-war person," broadcaster NTV reported Jehezkel as saying.

"There are Israeli soldiers held hostage in Gaza. I am someone who believes that this 100-day period should end now. I want the war to end. That's why I showed the message here," he was cited as saying through a translator during questioning.

Militants from Gaza's ruling Palestinian Islamist group Hamas stormed through Israeli communities in a surprise cross-border assault on October 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 240 hostages according to Israeli officials.

The subsequent war reached 100 days on Sunday, with Israeli tanks and aircraft hitting targets in southern and central Gaza amid fierce gunbattles in some areas. The Gaza health ministry said on Monday that 24,100 Palestinians had been killed and nearly 61,000 wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza since October 7.

Rallies in support of the hostages still being held in Gaza were held in Israel and elsewhere on Sunday.

After Jehezkel's detention, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant accused Turkey of serving as a "de facto executive arm of Hamas".

In a post on X, Gallant reminded Turkey of Israel's swift assistance to it following last year's earthquake and called Jehezkel's treatment "a manifestation of hypocrisy and ingratitude".

Antalyaspor's board has decided to exclude Jehezkel from its squad for "acting against the national values of our country" by displaying the message, a club statement said. Its spokesman Murat Ozgen said the club was awaiting court proceedings before terminating his contract.

"I watched with sadness and surprise that Sagiv Jehezkel acted against the sensitivities of Antalya, Antalyaspor and our country," club Chairman Sinan Boztepe said on X.

Turkey has been a fierce critic of Israel's devastating war in Gaza launched in response to the October 7 attack.

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