An Arsenal player has come under fire for posting on social media in support of Israel as the country’s military fights Palestinian militants and bombs the Gaza Strip.
Oleksandr ‘Alex’ Zinchenko – who is also a Ukraine international – shared a post via Instagram Stories that expressed support for Israel after militants from the Palestinian group Hamas launched a surprise attack, firing rockets and breaking through the Gaza-Israel border fence.
Arab News reports that Zinchenko took down the post and restricted access to his Instagram account after receiving considerable backlash from other social media users for sharing the post.
Some 849 Palestinians and at least 900 Israelis have been killed since Saturday, according to official tolls.
Israel has relentlessly bombed the Gaza Strip since the Hamas attack, with the overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed civilians.
Some social media users turned their anger towards Arsenal, saying that the club’s silence so far on Zinchenko’s post showed he was being treated differently than former club star Mesut Ozil had been when he criticised China for its genocide of the Uyghur minority group in 2019.
The North London football club distanced itself from Ozil’s comments at the time they were made, and the incident appeared to have contributed to the souring of relations between the German-Turkish footballer and the top-flight English club.
Though the club stated after Ozil’s comments that it was “apolitical as an organisation”, it has since expressed solidarity with Ukraine after Russia invaded the country in February 2022.
In May 2021, Mohamed Elneny, an Egyptian player for Arsenal, posted on social media in support of Palestine as Israel bombed Gaza – reportedly prompting concern from one of the club’s sponsors at the time.
The club defended Elneny, saying players were “entitled to express their views on their own platforms”.
The New Arab has contacted Arsenal FC for comment but did not receive a reply by the time of publication.
Elsewhere in the footballing world, fans of Scottish football club Celtic FC unfurled banners that read ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Victory to the Resistance’ after the fresh fighting broke out.
The move drew ire from Israeli ex-Celtic player Nir Britton, who took to social media to call the fans who unfurled the banners “brainwashed”.