Olympic ambitions snuffed out by Israel

Children are being denied the right to play sports in Gaza. 

Omar Ashtawy APA images

Sports grounds have been targeted by Israel during its genocidal war against Gaza.

Many have been destroyed or badly damaged. Others have been repurposed as sites of detention, torture and execution.

They include Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza City.

A video has been circulated showing the Israeli military ordering Palestinians – some of them children – to line up on its pitch. The detainees have also been filmed being forced to kneel with their hands behind their backs.

Hani al-Masdar is among the many athletes who have been killed by Israel.

Also known as Abu al-Abed, he was an accomplished football player who went on to coach the Palestinian Olympic team.

Nagham Abu Samra had a black belt in karate. She was hoping to represent Palestine at the Olympic Games in Paris later this year.

Her ambitions have been snuffed out. Nagham died from injuries sustained in an Israeli air strike that also killed her sister.

Nagham was widely considered a role model for Palestinian girls.

Muhammad Khattab was an international football referee. He and his family were killed in an attack on Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

At least 160 accredited athletes have been killed since the genocide began in October.

Many more people who played sports for exercise or enjoyment have lost their lives.

Throughout the world, people take part in and watch sports every single day. It is a normal part of life.

Living a normal life is impossible in Gaza. Israel is imposing cruel conditions on an entire society as part of an attempt to destroy it.

There is a word for such attempts: Genocide.

Eman Alhaj Ali is a journalist, translator and writer based in Gaza.