Palestinians, supporters fly a flag in an emotional World Cup testimonial | Football News

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The red, white, green and black Palestinian flag was ubiquitous at the game, which was moved from the West Bank to Kuwait because of the Israel-Hamas war.

Palestinian flags and the black and white keffiyeh scarf have flown high at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait as Palestine took on Australia in a World Cup qualifier.

Thousands of Palestinians and their supporters turned out on Tuesday at the 60,000-seat venue for the football match, the first Palestinian in front of fans since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

“Palestine is in our hearts. We came to the stadium, young and old, in support,” Anfal Al-Azmi, a 45-year-old Kuwaiti woman, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

It was defender Harry Souttar’s goal in the 18th minute that separated the teams as Australia won 1-0 in a game where the action on the field was almost accidental.

Palestinian fans hold Palestinian national flags ahead of a qualifying soccer match against Australia for the 2026 FIFA World Cup at the Jaber Al-Ahmad Stadium in Kuwait, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. (AP Photo / Jaber Abdulkhaleg)
Palestinian fans hold Palestinian national flags ahead of a football match against Australia [Jaber Abdulkhaleg/AP Photo]

The game was played more than six weeks after Palestinian Hamas fighters killed 1,200 people and took about 240 hostages in southern Israel, Israeli officials say, in an attack that was sent launched from the Gaza Strip on October 7.

Israel, vowing to destroy Hamas, has unleashed a vicious air and ground attack on Gaza in response, killing more than 14,100 people, including 5,600 children, according to Palestinian officials.

“We don’t care about the game. We came to deliver a message,” said Wael Youssef Labbad, 40, a Palestinian from Ashkelon, Israel.

“We, the Palestinian people, are always present with the keffiyeh and the flag.”

The red, black, white and green Palestinian flag was ubiquitous at the game – relocated from Ramallah in the West Bank because of the war – and many fans sported the distinctive keffiyehs during as they were singing.

Harry Souttar
Harry Souttar scored the winning goal for Australia [Jaber Abdulkhaleg/AP Photo]

Others held “Free Gaza” banners and pictures of keys, symbolizing the homes Palestinians lost during the Nakba, or catastrophe, when more than 700,000 Palestinians were displaced around the founding of Israel. in 1948.

Australia’s players will donate a portion of their match fee to humanitarian efforts in Gaza, which visiting coach Graham Arnold described as “horrendous”.

Not all fans were Palestinian. Many came from communities in the oil rich Gulf country.

“Kuwait and Palestine are one. Today we are guests of Palestine in their country,” said Kuwaiti Ahmed Al-Anezi, 36, who was draped in a Palestinian flag and wearing a keffiyeh.

“Today, I and my whole family came to support the Palestinian people and to reinforce the first Arab cause in the souls of my children. “

Syrian university student Yahya Shaher, 18, said: “We are here to support our brothers. We are one, and victory belongs to us.”

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