HEBRON, Palestinian Territories: Ahly al-Khalil football club of Hebron on the West Bank won the Palestinian Cup Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) for the second straight year after a 1-1 home draw against Shabab Khan Yunis of Gaza.
Ahly, who beat the Khan Yunis side 1-0 in the first leg in the Gaza Strip a week earlier, will now represent the Palestinians in next season’s AFC Cup, Asia’s premier club football tournament.
The second leg was originally due to take place on Saturday but was delayed by Israel’s refusal to allow eight members of the Khan Yunis delegation from leaving Israeli-blockaded Gaza, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) said.
The Palestinians say the match only went ahead thanks to the personal intervention of Gianni Infantino, president of world football’s governing body FIFA.
Israeli authorities have made no comment.
“The Israelis have no right to benefit from the privileges conferred by FIFA’s statutes if they keep obstructing (the rights of) the other side,” argued PFA president Jibril Rajoub.
Last year, Al-Ahli beat another Gaza club in the cup final, Shejaiya.
It was the first encounter in 15 years between clubs from the two Palestinian territories, which are geographically separated by Israel, because of the blockade and inter-Palestinian differences.