Controversy erupts after the Israeli Hatikva was played at the Agadir Judo Grand Prix

Hosted by Agadir, the Judo Grand Prix was attended by an Israeli delegation. This participation caused controversy as the Israeli Hatikva was played when the Israeli athletes received their medals.

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The Israeli Judo delegation in the Grand Prix hosted by Agadir./Ph. Twitter

During the weekend, the southern city of Agadir hosted the 2018 Judo Grand Prix. The competition that took place on the 9th, 10th and 11th of March was marked by the participation of the Israeli Judo women’s team which has later caused controversy.

In Agadir, Israel’s Timna Nelson Levy won a gold medal while Gefen Primo and Inbal Shemesh were granted bronzes and the Hatikva, a Jewish poem and the national anthem of Israel was played to celebrate that, reports Jerusalem Post.

Speaking to the same source, the coach of the Israeli team Shani Hershko declared following the Agadir event that : «It is a great experience to win a gold medal in Morocco, hear Hatikva and feel so proud of our athletes and the State of Israel».

Indeed, in a video that went viral on the internet, the Israeli anthem was played during the competition concluded on Sunday and the Israeli flag was hoisted. A situation that was criticized on social media.

Denouncing the Israeli participation

Denouncing this, the Moroccan Coalition to Support Palestine and Resist Normalization, wrote in a statement published on its Facebook page that «receiving this Zionist delegation is an insult to the Moroccan people who reject all forms of normalization with the Zionist entity, occupying Palestine».

The NGO was not the only part that slammed the competition organizers. In a Facebook post, Abderrazzak Makri, an Algerian politician and Islamist denounced normalization with the Israeli entity welcoming the behavior of Algerian judoka Amina Belkadi. The latter refused to face her Israeli rival at the Judo Grand Prix held in Agadir.

«This is an opportunity to call on Arab governments to beware of normalization policies», he said.

Replying to critics, the mayor of Agadir Salah El Malouki, who is also a member of the PJD, argued that there was «an international federation that selected Agadir as the hosting city of the tournament. This is to boost tourism and promote the city as a destination without having details about the participating delegations».

Replying to the wave of criticism, Shani Hershko stated that the Israeli delegation «was not affected by the behavior of the Moroccan and Algerian judokas, who refused to shake hands and compete against the Israeli players».

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