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Israeli soccer player Shagib Yehezkel has been released from detention in Turkey and was expected to return to the Jewish State on Monday following political and consular activity and “other factors,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.

The statement came after media reported that the soccer player had been released and was going to be deported.


Yehezkel, 28, plays for the Antalyaspor team in Turkey. He was arrested following a small tribute to the Israeli abductees to mark 100 days of the Hamas massacre, which he presented during his team’s game: making the sign of a heart with his hands toward a camera, and making visible the words he had written inside his wristband, “100 days 7.10” along with a small Jewish Star of David.

Turkey Detains Israeli Soccer Star Who Scored a Goal for the Hostages

That was enough to enrage the Turkish government, which immediately ordered its security personnel to take the soccer player into custody and interrogate him. Turkey’s Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc announced Sunday evening via the X social media platform that his ministry had opened an investigation against Yehezkel on charges of “inciting people to hatred and hostility” in response to “his ugly gesture supporting Israel’s massacre in Gaza.”

The player was quoted by Turkish media as saying he “did not intend to provoke anyone” with the gesture.

The club for which Yehezkel played, meanwhile, immediately suspended him and vowed to terminate his contract because he had “acted against the sensitivities of Antalya, Antalyaspor and our country.” Termination of the Israeli soccer player’s contract will be a rather costly endeavor: Israel’s Channel 12 News estimated the move could cost the team more than a million dollars.

“Turkey has become a dark dictatorship, working against humane values and sports values,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in response to the incident.

“Whoever arrests a soccer player for an act of identification with 136 abductees who have been held for over 100 days by the terrorists of a murderous terrorist organization, represents a culture of murder and hatred.

“I call on the international community and the international sports organizations to act against Turkey and against its political use of violence and threats against athletes. Today it’s Shagib Yehezkel; tomorrow it’s another athlete.”


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.