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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Sports World Reacts to Hamas Attack on Israel

  • All major US sports leagues have released statements as war spread in the region.
  • Several professional teams have also expressed sentiments condemning the violence.
The flag of Israel waves in the wind above crime scene tape outside Margolin Hebrew Academy after a man armed with a handgun first tried to enter the school and then began firing his gun outside the school before fleeing in Memphis, Tenn., on Monday, July 31, 2023.
Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK
Sports teams, athletes, and all major U.S. sports leagues have reacted to Saturday’s attack on Israeli citizens by Hamas, a militant group in control of Gaza recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union.

Hamas terrorists killed more Jews on Saturday than any day since the Holocaust in 1945, according to President Joe Biden. At least 1,200 Israelis have been killed — though the number is still climbing. The White House confirmed that at least 27 U.S. citizens were among them.

Israel has since declared war on Hamas. Some athletes, teams and leagues have also expressed solidarity with the more than 1,400 Palestinians killed during Israeli counterattacks in Gaza.

The NBA and NBPA were the earliest to express support for Israeli citizens, saying on Sunday that they were “[praying] for peace for the entire region.” The NFL released a statement Monday morning, “[mourning] the loss of innocent lives in Israel and strongly [condemning] all forms of terrorism.” MLB, the NHL, the NWSL, the WNBA, MLS, and the PLL have since followed with similar statements.

“We remain hopeful for peace in the region and around the world,” the NWSL said Monday afternoon. The WNBA, in its statement, added that WNBA players currently in Israel are safe.

The NFL has announced teams will hold moments of silence over the weekend. The Philadelphia Phillies did so earlier this week before their postseason game.

While major college conferences have not made comments as of Tuesday morning, NCAA President (and former Massachusetts governor) Charlie Baker tweeted: “We stand with the people of Israel and condemn the violence perpetrated by Hamas. … For the young people across college campuses impacted by the violence, I trust their schools are ready to help them through difficult moments like these with counseling and other resources.”

At least 13 NFL teams — including the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins — released sentiments condemning the violence in the region. The Washington Commanders, in their first season under the ownership of Josh Harris, also expressed solidarity with Israeli citizens; the other teams owned by Harris — the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers — posted identical statements on social media.

On Tuesday, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank announced he and his charitable foundation would send $750,000 to three medical entities taking care of wounded Israelis. Stand Up to Jewish Hate, a campaign launched in March by an organization founded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, released a statement later reposted by the Patriots.

Jewish and non-Jewish athletes alike, including NBA star LeBron James, XFL co-owner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, former NFL playesr Julian Edelman and Tom Brady, and former NBA player Amar’e Stoudemire, have made videos and/or original written posts in support of peace in Israel.

“The murder and violence against innocent people by Hamas is terrorism,” James and Maverick Carter said in a joint statement from SpringHill Company. “We all must work to ensure this tragedy does not spread even more hate, racism, and antisemitism.”

On Twitter, Edelman wrote: “Forget politics, forget money, forget land. … This is hate. An ancient hate we’ve seen before.”

Stoudemire’s first video criticized politicians and human rights activists who had not spoken up against the attack against Israelis. He posted a second video a day later urging peace and safety for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Dean Kremer, the first Israeli to be drafted by an MLB team, and Alex Bregman, have both used the Star of David symbol to represent their support for Israel during the MLB postseason.

UEFA, which counts Israel among its members, postponed several matches in the country, including a Euro 2024 qualifier with Switzerland scheduled for Friday. The soccer governing body did not release any statements beyond that.

But on Thursday, the Premier League said it was “shocked and saddened” by the “escalating crisis in Israel and Gaza,” and that it “strongly condemns the horrific and brutal acts of violence against innocent civilians.”

The league will observe moments of silence throughout the weekend, have players, managers, and officials wear black armbands, and will donate an undisclosed amount to the British Red Cross, which is assisting with aid efforts in both Israel and Gaza.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect additional comments from around the sports industry.

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