Kosovo won 1-0 against Israel on Sunday in qualifying for Euro-2024, for the first trip by the Israeli football team since the massacres of October 7 and the start of the war in Gaza. Placed under very high security by the authorities of Kosovo, the vast majority of whose 1.8 million inhabitants are of Muslim faith but which is a very close ally of the United States and maintains good diplomatic relations with Israel, the meeting took place without any incident.
Kosovo won thanks to a goal scored in the 41st minute of the match played in front of a few thousand spectators by Milot Rashica, who plays for Besiktas, in Turkey. Impressive security measures were implemented all around the stadium before and during the match, including special police units deployed. The Israeli team's convoy was also particularly closely monitored when it moved through the city.
“We see scenes with children (in Gaza), and we ourselves have had the experience of war,” one of the spectators of the match, Driton Ajeti, a lawyer, commented to an AFP correspondent. aged 37. “We are opposed to these events that we attend, but today we came for the sport, and everything else is decided elsewhere. We should not get involved in politics, but only in sport,” said Gezim Hasi, a 45-year-old bartender.
During the day, a few hours before the match, a large Palestinian flag bearing the inscription “Free Palestine” was displayed on the facade of a hotel in downtown Pristina. by feminist activists, before being quickly kidnapped by the police. Some 1,200 people, mainly civilians, were massacred in the attack committed by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on October 7, unprecedented in the history of Israel.
In response, Israel promised to “annihilate” the Palestinian movement, classified as a “terrorist organization” by Israel, the United States and the European Union, and which according to the Israeli authorities also holds some 240 hostages. In the Gaza Strip, incessant Israeli bombardments have killed 11,180 people since October 7, mainly civilians, including 4,609 children, according to Hamas.