Sweden-Israel Handball Game Sparks anti-Israel Protests

Around 150 people demonstrate at stadium in Karlskrona, southern Sweden, where the European Championship qualifier match was held; Sweden police say protest not likely to turn violent.

A European Championship qualifier match between the Israeli and Swedish handball teams on Sunday sparked protests urging a boycott of Israel on the grounds that it is an "apartheid state."

Police say around 150 pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered outside a sports stadium in the town of Karlskrona in southern Sweden, where the match was held. One person was taking into custody three hours into the demonstration.

AP

The rally was organized by an umbrella group called the “Network for Independence, Peace and Non-alignment,” which is comprised of various Swedish political parties. Organizers distributed a picture of a decapitated child lying between the legs of a soldier to attract protesters.

In an earlier message, protest organizers said that, “In Israel, Palestinians are denied the right to pursue sports on equal terms, just like the blacks were denied this right in South Africa during apartheid. Sports and politics are connected. The Israeli team represents the Apartheid state of Israel.”

Police spokesman Mats Trulsson said the protest had been peaceful and showed no sign of developing into the violent riots seen during a Davis Cup game between Sweden and Israel in the city of Malmo in 2009.

Trulsson also said that a pro-Israel demonstration attracted around 60 people to Karlskrona before the qualifier game for the European handball championship.

Police had been on high alert before the game, following the events in Malmo in 2009 when rock-throwing activists clashed with police and tried to storm the arena hosting the Davis Cup game.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center had earlier called for the International Handball Federation to cancel Sunday's game because of anti-Israel sentiments and preparations for the rally.