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Israelis said to search Palestinian soccer group

November 25, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — An alleged search of the Palestinian Football Association headquarters in the West Bank by the Israeli military was denounced Tuesday by the head of Asia’s soccer federation.

In Tel Aviv, the military said it hadn’t targeted the building and there was no raid there.

Asian Football Confederation President Sheik Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa accused the Israelis of “breaking into the PFA headquarters ... a dangerous precedent that requires the international sporting family to stand together and support the PFA,” he said in a statement on his organization’s website.

Sheik Salman added that his group would work with FIFA to “study ways and mechanisms to put an end to the suffering of Palestinian football, and send a tough message to the Israeli authorities to stop its attacks on various parts of the Palestinian footballing system.”

FIFA said in a statement that President Sepp Blatter was “very sad to learn about an incident involving (the) Israeli army force.”

The Israeli military said a routine patrol in the area Monday asked several Palestinians for identification cards. When they said the cards were inside the soccer association building, the patrol followed them inside to check the cards.

The Palestinian federation has complained about Israeli travel restrictions on some of its players in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a territory ruled by the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas.

Israel has cited concerns about possible attacks by Palestinian militants as the main reason for sweeping restrictions on movement that affect most Palestinians, including athletes.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter tried to mediate this year, but the problems persist.

Despite a lack of training camps and travel restrictions, the Palestinians won the AFC Challenge Cup in May to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia, reaching the continental championship for the first time.

The team started competing regularly in international competitions after being admitted by FIFA in 1998 following the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority.

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