Israeli tennis player faces protests over Gaza attacks

January 8th, 2009 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Wellington, Jan 8 (DPA) Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was subject to a small but noisy protest over her country’s invasion of Gaza when she played a quarter-final match at the ASB Classic tournament in Auckland Thursday. About 20 protestors waving anti-Israel placards yelled slogans outside the stadium’s main entrance opposed by a lone Israeli demonstrator with a sign saying, “Hamas murders hope.”

Security was tight and the demonstrators moved on before the start of Peer’s match, which she lost to number one seed Elena Dementieva of Russia in 63 minutes.

Peer, who earlier rejected calls to withdraw from the tournament, said later: “I am not the government of Israel and I am not representing Israel in politics. I am a tennis player and that’s what I represent now.”

Protest organiser John Minto, who led a campaign against New Zealand’s sporting contacts with apartheid South Africa in the 1970s, said the demonstration would make New Zealanders think more deeply about what their country could do to support the Palestinian struggle.

Minto called Wednesday for a shoe-waving protest against Peer’s participation in the tournament but this did not happen.

Peer, who was making her third appearance at the Auckland tournament, said she had never been targeted by protestors anywhere before.

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