Despite the rising tensions between Israel and Gaza as a result of the evictions of several Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, Israeli sports leagues are attempting to continue play. Israeli soccer and basketball leagues, despite being under constant rocket fire from Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, hope to continue to operate. The biggest problem with these leagues is that they are dependent on foreign-born players and many of these players, for the safety of themselves and their families, are fleeing the country momentarily until the rocketfire ceases. The soccer club, Maccabi Tel Aviv, has already seen the departure of Aleksandr Pesic, Andre Geraldes, and Enric Saborit. Obviously, this loss will hurt the team, but the soccer teams are not as reliant on the foreign players as others like the basketball league. Many American players, including former NBA players Ray McCallum, Jeremy Pargo, and Tashawn Thomas. Each basketball team has approximately 12 players on the roster, ⅓ of which are foreign born. Some teams have more than four foreign players. Others, technically have enough players on the roster in order to compete, but many of their players have not received a lot of minutes or are merely players for the team’s youth club and are underdeveloped physically and do not have a lot of experience. In order to address these roster deficits, the league has allowed teams to sign either domestic or international players in their places before the playoffs. With only a few games left of the regular season followed by playoffs, many American-born players have advocated for an end to the season. In order for the season to finish uninterrupted, the league has decided to finish out the season in an NBA-style bubble in Eilat, where rockets are rarely, if ever, fired. If a ceasefire were to occur, the Israeli teams would finish out the regular season in every team’s respective home stadiums.
With Israel’s refusal to stop the league more than a year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, it seemed likely that Israel would not let a few rockets ruin its season. While their current situation is definitely less than ideal, both the soccer and basketball leagues have acted swiftly in order to let the season end and so that the show can go on. This brief war with Gaza has shown above all else Israel’s perseverance. Whether it has been sports or daily activities, Israelis have not let terror get in the way.
Zachary Goldstein is a junior at Kohelet Yeshiva High School in Pennsylvania. He is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.