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Peace group funds football club in Hebron's old city

Dec. 29, 2012 7:37 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 31, 2012 10:02 A.M.)
By: Muhammad Uweiwi
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- The Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron is establishing a football club for young men who live in an area of Hebron's old city affected by Israel's military occupation.

TIPH is renting training facilities for a whole year and providing equipment to young residents living in the Wadi al-Hussein area of Hebron.

"The area of Wadi al-Hussein in Hebron badly needs sports and entertainment centers, and one of the concerns of TIPH is to exert efforts to enhance stability, economic development and social welfare for the Palestinians in Hebron," TIPH monitor Mazin Zuheiri told Ma'an.

The initiative is seen by locals as a good opportunity to relieve the political and psychological pressures young people face when their lives are controlled by Israeli military procedures in order to protect a small group of Jewish settlers living nearby.

The Wadi al-Hussein neighborhood is located in a seam zone connecting Kiryat Arba settlement with the H2 area of Hebron's old city. The area is controlled by Israeli military forces who are stationed there to protect settlers.

"Seeking refuge from the dire economic and political conditions as well as the Israeli military procedures, we applied to the TIPH to financially support the establishment of a football club," one of the 21 players Odai al-Jaabari told Ma'an.

"The TIPH watched a number of young men from the neighborhood playing football, and agreed to approve our application."

TIPH will cover the costs of the football team, which includes hiring a trainer for the duration of the year.

"It is great that my son gets an opportunity to play with this team. That will shed some light on this area, and we hope local organizations in Hebron will bring more support to this team," a father of one of the players said.

"I have 21 players who need a lot of training so we can brush up their talents, which they developed by playing in the streets," the coach Alaa Zaatari said.

TIPH is a civilian observer mission stationed in the city of Hebron.

Around 800 Jewish settlers live in Hebron's Old City among 30,000 Palestinians in the parts of the ancient city that are under Israeli control following a 1997 agreement.
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