Israel released a member of the Palestinian national soccer team on Tuesday after holding him in jail without trial for three years, during which he staged an intermittent four-month hunger strike in protest, Palestinian officials said.
Mahmoud al-Sarsak, 25, alleged by Israel to have been active in the Islamic Jihad militant group, received a hero’s welcome on his return home to Islamist-ruled Gaza.
Soccer legend Eric Cantona and other international figures had signed a letter drawing attention to Sarsak’s plight. Sepp Blatter, president of world soccer’s governing body FIFA, also wrote to the Israeli soccer authorities to seek their help.
Protesters chant anti-government slogans during a protest condemning the death of soccer fans at Port Said stadium, near the Interior Ministry in Cairo, February 2, 2012.
Egyptians incensed by the deaths of 74 people in soccer violence staged protests in central Cairo on Thursday as the army-led government came under fire for failing to prevent the deadliest incident since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. [REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih]
VIDEO: At least 73 people are dead, with hundreds injured after fans stormed a soccer field in Port Said while another stadium in Cairo was set on fire.
UPDATE: Egypt’s Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the country’s ruling military council, ordered two helicopters be sent to Port Said, the scene of violent soccer clashes, to fly out some of the visiting Al Ahli soccer team and its fans, military sources said.
“This is unfortunate and deeply saddening. It is the biggest disaster in Egypt’s soccer history,” deputy health minister Hesham Sheiha told state television. [Photo: REUTERS/Stringer]