Updated | Police stop protest against ‘Israeli apartheid’ at Ta’ Qali

Police take Italian photographer who snapped photos of protest action at Ta' Qali football ground to his Swieqi residence to confirm he had a Maltese residence, after stopping peaceful protest.

Police have arrested a foreign national who was part of a protest held today at the Centenary Stadium, in Ta’ Qali during the national women’s football qualifier between Malta and Israel.

The protest, organised by the Network for Palestinian Solidarity, involved the display of a banner that read ‘Stop Israeli Apartheid’, in a statement aimed at the Israeli government’s occupation of Palestinians in Gaza.

Members of NGO Moviment Graffitti told MaltaToday that police ordered the protestors to cease their action, and took down their particulars.

But the police arrested an Italian man who was taking photographs of the protest, after they demanded that he give them the photographs they had taken.

A witness said the police arrested the man and accompanied him to his Swieqi residence after he could not procure an identity document, when asked for his particulars.

He was later set free by police after confirming that the man had a Maltese residence.

The football match, a World Cup Tournament qualifier, was free and open to the public.

"The Palestine Solidarity Network felt compelled to hold such action as it believes that the current situation of systematic terror, segregation and ethnic cleansing being pursued by the Israeli state merits global denunciation," the NGO said in a statement.

"The world ‘Apartheid’, originally used in relation to the racist political, economic and military policies put in place by the South African White Regime is being increasingly employed to describe the situation in Palestine. Like black people in South Africa, Palestinians are denied their fundamental human rights through discriminatory practices in the regulation of access to resources, freedom of movement and ownership of land."

The NGO said that sport was one of those areas exposing the condition of systematic oppression under which Israel was keeping the Palestinians.

"While Israelis can travel freely around the world to play international games, Palestinian players are required to obtain special permits from the Israeli authorities, often making their movements complicated, if not impossible. There have also been many cases of Palestinian football players that were subjected to violence and/or arbitrary imprisonment. For example, in January 2014 two Palestinian footballers, Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were shot by Israeli soldiers and mauled by checkpoint dogs on their way back from a training session, an attack which forever ended their football careers."

Israeli settlers continue to be encouraged and supported by the Israeli state to seize more Palestinian land. Lack of access to water has forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to leave areas like the Jordan Valley, now increasingly populated by illegal Israeli settlers. And while settlers can move freely between the West Bank and Israel, Palestinians have to have special permits granted by the Israeli authorities to move outside the West Bank. Even inside the West Bank, movement is severely restricted by means of hundreds of checkpoints controlling the daily lives of Palestinians.

As from the year 2002 Israel started building an 800km segregation wall surrounding the West Bank, grabbing more Palestinian land and increasingly confining the Palestinians.

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