Gaza Action Ireland launched its Gaza Kids to Ireland project today in Dublin, with the support of Brian Kerr, former Irish national team manager, who spoke very eloquently and passionately on the terrible and illegal obstacles apartheid Israel imposes on Palestinian football players both in Gaza and the West Bank. These include preventing the team from playing and training together, imprisoning players and coaches and have also seen players being shot, coupled with the bombing of the stadium in Gaza. In this light Kerr noted that the achievement of sports people in Palestine to continue to try to play and to compete successfully is remarkable. He also remembered the four children from the Bakr family who were murdered as they played football on the beach in Gaza this summer in Israel’s murderous assault which killed more than 2,200 people.
Press release from GAI below, article from the Journal here. ‘7-year olds in Gaza have suffered three wars and yet they’re still trying to play football.’
Interview with Trevor Hogan on the Tubridy Show, from 49 mins. Irish Independent piece: Gaza’s young footballers gear up for visit to Ireland
Many thanks to everyone who came along and have been helping out with this project, particularly to the chair and vice-chair of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Martin Quigley and Fatin Al Tamimi. Also to Peter Houlihan for the photos.
We will keep people notified on how to get involved with this project, meanwhile if you would like to donate, please see the Gaza Action Ireland website.
Follow us on twitter @GazaAI1
Photo Peter Houlihan PH Photography
Brian Kerr launches ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’
A TEAM of Palestinian children from the besieged Gaza strip will play football in Ireland next summer, thanks to an initiative launched today by former Irish manager and leading football pundit Brian Kerr.
Hundreds of children were killed and approximately 3,000 were injured in Israel’s summer onslaught on the territory.
“We’d love to do something to help all of Gaza’s kids to have a normal childhood,” Kerr said at the launch in Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin, today. “In the meantime we can show this small group of them our hospitality – and the special sort of solidarity that comes from competing on a football pitch.”
Under-14 members of the Al-Helal club, based in northern Gaza, will play against teams from Dublin, Tipperary, Limerick and Antrim during their visit next August.
The ‘Gaza Kids to Ireland’ trip will see the children make a daunting journey across Egypt’s Sinai Desert, because the simpler route through Israel is closed by the illegal siege, and because Gaza doesn’t have an airport. It is being organised by Gaza Action Ireland (GAI) and Antrim to Gaza, who need to raise thousands of euro to support the initiative.
Contributions can be made at www.gazaactionireland.ie.
“Most people in Ireland were sickened at the sight of what Gaza’s men, women and children suffered under Israeli bombardment in July and August,” ex-rugby international Trevor Hogan, one of the GAI organisers of the visit, said today. “But the maiming and murder of so many kids was especially heartbreaking.
“We’ve expressed our anger already, not only at last summer’s assault but at the ongoing siege of this small, densely populated territory,” Hogan added. “This trip offers us a different way to show our support for the children of Palestine.”
Al-Helal’s clubhouse was damaged in the Israeli assaults of 2012 and 2014. It stands close to the beach, but the sea there is usually too polluted with sewage for the children to play in it.
“Even in Ireland, playing football is often the main form of exercise and entertainment that is freely available to children,” Kerr, who is also a director of Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI), said. “Imagine what it must mean to Gaza’s kids, who have just lived through the third major attack in less than six years on the territory where they live.”
GAI coordinator Zoë Lawlor said the organisers were delighted to have the support of many Irish sportspeople.
Photo Peter Houlihan PH Photography