Over the weekend, Israel was rocked when Hamas terrorists invaded the nation, entering communities near the Gaza Strip—killing hundreds of civilians, taking hostages, and firing thousands of rockets and missiles at cities across the country. The initial death toll was over 260, with 22 Americans confirmed among the dead. However, the final number is expected to be much higher, and that doesn’t account for the unknown number of people that the Israeli authorities say were taken captive.
Hamas is an Islamist militant movement and one of the Palestinian territories’ two major political parties. It governs more than two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, but the group is best known for its armed resistance against Israel.
The conflict between the two sides has been ongoing since 1948 when the Jewish state of Israel was formally recognized. 75 years later, the Hamas attack has prompted Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare, “We are at war.”
Needless to say, with all major sports leagues having members of the Jewish faith – or Israeli nationals themselves – involved in the play and operations of their franchises, the athletic world was quick to weigh in on the attack.
Players like the Detroit Lions’ Alex Anzalone of the NFL and the Washington Wizards’ Deni Avidja in the NBA both shared personal stories of how the events that are unfolding from this tragedy have directly affected their friends and family. Meanwhile, former NBA star Amare Stoudemire and Patriots owner Robert Kraft were very vocal in condemning Americans (and others) who somehow tried to play ‘devil’s advocate’ and justify the unwarranted ambush of private citizens by Hamas.
All major US sports leagues have released statements as war spread in the region, and most franchises have followed suit in standing with the Israeli people.
The NBA and NBPA expressed support for Israel and “peace for the entire region.” The NFL released a statement Monday morning, “the loss of innocent lives in Israel and strongly (condemning) all forms of terrorism.” MLB, the NHL, the NWSL, the WNBA, MLS, and the PLL have since come forth with similar statements.
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