A second Israeli soccer player, defensive midfielder Eden Kartzev, has run afoul of anti-Israel Turkish hostility and is expected to leave the country soon after his club released him.
Kartzev, 23, who joined the İstanbul Başakşehir Football Club as a midfielder on Jan. 31, 2023, posted on social media in support of the hostages held by Hamas on the 100th day of their captivity.
His club’s management demanded that he delete the post. He was later interrogated by the police. Team fans turned against him and demanded the team fire him. “Every Zionist is a Zionist,” they wrote on social networks, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.
Team manager Çağdaş Atan said in an interview, “Kartsev should have understood where he lives and in which country he plays. We asked him not to share anything related to the matter. We did not expect him to do that. I am not angry and I understand that he is trying to do something for the country and his family, but he had to be careful.”
Kartsev, who also has a Belarusian passport, was born in Afula in the Jezreel Valley. He has made five appearances for the Israeli national soccer team.
Kartzev follows Israeli soccer player Sagiv Jehezkel, who played for Turkish club Antalyaspor and was arrested on Monday and released later that day, after which he flew home to Israel.
Jehezkel, 28, showed a message written on a bandaged hand: “100 days. 7.10” along with a Star of David in solidarity with hostages during a game after scoring a goal on Sunday.
The city of Antalya’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Officer charged Jehezkel with “inciting the public to hatred and hostility.”
Antalyaspor’s deputy president and spokesperson Evren Alkan said that the club would terminate Jehezkel’s deal. If the club ended the three-season contract, it would owe Jehezkel $1 million, Channel 12 reported.
“Turkey has become a dark dictatorship, working against humane values and sports values,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said.
“Whoever arrests a soccer player for an act of identification with 136 abductees who have been held for over 100 days by the terrorists of a murderous terrorist organization, represents a culture of murder and hatred,” he added.
Katz called on the international community to act against Turkey for threatening athletes. “Today it’s Sagiv Jehezkel, tomorrow it’s another athlete.”
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant accused Turkey of ingratitude following the incident, posting to X: “When there was an earthquake in Turkey less than a year ago, Israel was the first country to stand up and extend aid that saved the lives of many Turkish citizens.”
After a cold spell in relations, Turkey had made friendly gestures towards Israel but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reverted to form following the Oct. 7 attack and has made inciting speeches against Israel and recalled Turkey’s ambassador from Israel.
In late December, Erdoğan compared Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler.
“We watched Israel’s Nazi camps. What kind of job is this?” asked Erdoğan during a speech, according to a Channel 12 translation. “They talk about Hitler in a strange way. What is the difference between them and Hitler? They will make us miss Hitler even more,” he said.