Palestinian cup final postponed, claiming Israel denied travel permits

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Palestinian Gaza's Shejaiya played Khery Mahdi (R) fights for the ball against Hebron's Al-Ahly Ahmed Maher (L) during the first leg match of the Palestine Cup final at Yarmuk stadium in Gaza City, on August 6, 2015, as the two teams play each other for the first time in 15 years. Today's  game in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip is being seen as a symbol of Palestinian unity after last year's devastating conflict with Israel and months of political backbiting.  AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED

The Palestinian Football Federation postponed the final Cup game between the champions from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank after denied entry permits to some of the Gaza players, Palestinian sports officials said.

The Shejaia club from the Gaza Strip must pass through an Israeli border crossing to reach the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, where Sunday’s game was scheduled to be played, and to do so needs approval from Israel.

Israeli authorities said they had allowed 33 of 37 players to cross but wanted to ask further questions of the remaining four. They were invited for screening on both Thursday and Friday but refused, an Israeli border affairs spokeswoman said.

“They will be allowed to cross on Sunday after questions,” spokeswoman Hadar Horen said. The border is closed on Saturdays.

The Palestinian federation said the game was now delayed until further notice.

“It became clear seven people, including four players, were not on the list and therefore, the entire mission can’t leave Gaza without them,” said Ala Shammaly, a member of the media office for the Shejaia team.

Sunday’s championship was to be a follow-up of a match on Thursday between Al-Ahly, the top team in the West Bank and Gaza’s champion Shejaia.

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