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Scottish football club fans wave Palestinian flags during match with Israeli team

Aug. 18, 2016 12:10 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 18, 2016 7:50 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Fans of the Scottish Celtic Football Club waved Palestinian flags during an international playoff game for qualification for the UEFA Champions League tournament against the Israeli Hapoel Beersheba club on Wednesday.

Entire sections of Celtic supporters brought Palestinian flags to the Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow, in spite of threats of arrest by Scottish police should it deem that flags and banners displayed at the match constitute “criminality.”

“When someone is representing Israeli state institutions, it is sadly never merely a game,” a statement by the group Celtic Fans for Palestine, which organized the event on social media, read ahead of the game. “Football, UEFA and Celtic F.C. are being used to whitewash Israel's true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until its impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached.”

“Until there is end to the brutal occupation and medieval siege of the West Bank and Gaza, until the Palestinian citizens of current day Israel have the chains of apartheid lifted from them and until all Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to their homeland, we will always be visually and openly in support of the Palestinians and opposed to their Israeli colonizers and oppressors,” the statement added. “We are with you Palestine. You will never walk alone.”

Celtic F.C. won the match 5 to 2.

It remained unclear on Thursday whether police had effectively detained supporters, although local media reported that the Celtic club could risk its stadium being closed to UEFA matches going forward.

Celtic F.C. fans had previously waved Palestinian flags during a match against Iceland's KR Reykjavik club in 2014. The UEFA at the time had fined the club some $18,000 for violating its rules prohibiting political expression.

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