Serious concerns have emerged regarding the safety and well-being of a group of Nigerian footballers currently based in Israel, as militants launched an attack on the country over the weekend, Soccernet.ng reports.
With at least 18 Nigerian footballers actively participating in various league divisions in Israel, the recent escalation in violence, with Hamas militants firing thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel, has raised alarm.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has unequivocally declared that “Israel is at war” in the wake of a surprise early morning attack from Gaza that tragically claimed the lives of at least 22 people.
Among those potentially affected are Super Eagles goalkeeper Adebayo Adeleye and midfielder John Ogu, who play for Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Kabilio Jaffa, respectively.
Adeleye is scheduled to feature in the Super Eagles squad set to play two international friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Mozambique next week, while John Ogu was not selected for these games.
As of now, the immediate impact of the escalating crisis on the Nigerian players in Israel remains uncertain.
However, there is a looming concern that the situation could deteriorate rapidly.
Hamas has asserted that it has captured several Israeli soldiers near the border, following the infiltration of its militants into Israel by land, sea, and air, even employing paragliders.
The Israel Defense Forces has reported ongoing battles at multiple locations, with some residents in Israel claiming that militants have attempted to break into their homes.
The timing of this assault, occurring on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 War, in which Arab states launched an offensive against Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, adds to the gravity of the situation.
Reactions from European Leaders
Several European leaders have expressed their views on the situation.
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the terrorist attacks, saying, “I strongly condemn the terrorist attacks which are currently hitting Israel. I express my full solidarity with the victims, and their families and loved ones.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed shock at the rocket fire from Gaza and the escalating violence, stating, “Germany condemns these Hamas attacks and stands by Israel.”
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak voiced his shock at the attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli citizens and emphasized Israel’s right to self-defense. He also noted that British nationals in Israel should follow travel advice.
The situation remains fluid, and further developments are expected in the coming days as efforts are made to restore stability in the region.