Egypt's Elneny says Gaza 'in his heart' after playing in Tel Aviv

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 26 Aug 2015

Mohamed Elneny
FC Basel's Mohamed Elneny (L) fights for the ball with Maccabi Tel Aviv's Maharan Radi in 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt and Basel midfielder Mohamed Elneny wore a wristband bearing the flag of Palestine and said Gaza is "in his heart" after playing with his Swiss team in a UEFA Champions League game in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

Basel settled for a 1-1 draw away to Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the Champions League playoff to bow out of Europe's elite club competition on the away goal rule following a 3-3 aggregate draw.

Elneny also played in Israel in 2013 against the same opponent when he and then teammate Mohamed Salah were criticised by some Egyptians for agreeing to take part in the game

Although Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, many Egyptians still bristle at any "normalization" of ties with Israel.

Elneny was hardly criticised this time around, with many Egyptians supporting him on social media.

On Wednesday, the 23-year-old posted a picture of himself with the Palestine wristband on his official Facebook page.

"Thanks God for everything. Gaza is in my heart," he wrote.

Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007, when Islamist faction Hamas seized it from Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Mohamed Elneny
Elneny wearing the Palestine wristband after playing with Basel away to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the UEFA Champions League (Photo: the player's official Facebook page)

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