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West Bank and Gaza battle it out on the football field

Members of the West Bank-based Ahli Al-Khalil football team entered the blockaded Gaza Strip late Tuesday – via Israel's Erez border crossing – for the first time in 15 years.

Ahli Al-Khalil played against Gaza's Ittihad Al-Shujaiya team yesterday for the final match of the Palestinian Football Cup before returning to the West Bank on 9 August.

"The Israeli authorities had refused to allow either team to travel between the Gaza Strip and the [Israeli-occupied] West Bank until the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) lodged a complaint with FIFA about Israel's discriminatory actions," PFA Vice Secretary-General Mohamed Al-Emsi told the AnadoluAgency.

Yesterday's final in the Gaza Strip was the first such match since 2000, when a popular uprising erupted against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.

Images by MEMO photographer: Mohammad Asad.

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