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Israel Prevents 10 Players of Gaza Football Team from Traveling to West Bank | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Hamas security forces stand guard at Erez border crossing into Israel, in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip on March 26, 2017. (AFP)

Israeli authorities barred on Thursday ten players of a Palestinian youth football team from heading from al-Khalil to the West Bank to take part in the return leg of the Palestinian Cup.

Shabaab Rafah were set to travel from Gaza to Hebron to play against Ahly al-Khalil. Only 15 members of the team were allowed to travel, said club president Khaled Kwaik.

Those missing include a striker and two of the club’s three goalkeepers.

“Banning the goalkeepers will negatively affect the team’s performance in the event of an injury to the (remaining) keeper,” Kwaik told Agence France Presse.

Israeli authorities did not yet explain the reason for barring the players from travel.

Despite the bans, the second leg of the tie between teams from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will go ahead on Friday, the Palestinian Football Association said.

Shabaab Rafah are 2-0 up against Ahly al-Khalil.

West Bank and Gaza teams play in separate leagues, with the winners contesting the cup.

The two territories are separated by Israel and the Palestinians looking to travel between them must apply for permits from the Jewish state.

The Palestinian Cup was stopped for 15 years largely due to problems with Israeli permits, but restarted in 2015 after world football governing body FIFA intervened.