An interview with the family of detained Palestinian footballer and hunger striker Mahmoud Al-Sarsak:
On July, 22, 2009, Palestinian National Team soccer player, Mahmoud Al Sarsak, bid farewell to his family as he had finally obtained an Israeli permit allowing him to cross Erez checkpoint in the north of Gaza and enter the West Bank. The 22-year-old player, at the time, was heading to Balata Refugee Camp to join the Palestinian National Soccer Team and to train there. The overwhelming happiness that overcame the young Palestinian athlete as he was issued the permit, describes his mother Khaldiya Shalabi, has turned into a curse of misery for him and his family.
Mahmoud was detained and has imprisoned without charge or trial since the. In protest Mahmoud joined the recent prisoner’s hunger strike, and has now gone over 80 days without food.
According to Ma’an:
After 80 days on hunger strike, Mahmoud al-Sarsak is at immediate risk of death and must be hospitalized immediately, an independent doctor said Wednesday.
Until Wednesday, Israel’s prison service had refused to allow independent doctors to visit al-Sarsak, who is being held at Ramle prison clinic.
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel were able to send a doctor to visit al-Sarsak on Wednesday after petitioning an Israeli court for access…..
Al-Sarsak, a professional soccer player, has experienced extreme loss of muscle tissue and drastic weight loss. The 25-year-old is frequently losing consciousness and suffers memory lapses, the doctor said. He is also at risk of pulse disruptions that are endangering his life.
Whilst Ramzy Baroud notes that:
Palestine’s soccer ranking at 164th in the world is testament not to any lack of passion for the game, but to the constant Israeli attempts at destroying even that national aspiration.
The examples of Israeli war on Palestinian soccer are too many to count, although most of them receive little or no media coverage whatsoever.
On June 8th a solidarity demo was held outside the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in London to try and raise Mahmoud’s profile.