Soccer Star's Facebook Photo From Israel Sparks Virtual Middle East Conflict

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World renowned soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo got a taste of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Thursday after innocently publishing a picture of himself in Israel on his Facebook page.

Ronaldo, who arrived ahead of Portugal's 2014 World Cup qualifier against Israel on Friday, uploaded the photograph of himself with his teammates and wrote, "Great morning in Israel with my colleagues – with Silvio, Sa Pereira, Pepe and Miguel Veloso."

The use of the word Israel triggered a deluge of reactions from pro-Palestinians, who attacked him for using the word Israel and wrote that he was in Palestine. "It's Arab occupied land of Palestine, Mr. Ronaldo, not Israel," wrote one visitor, warning Ronaldo not to risk losing his Arab and Palestinian admirers on account of "Nazi Israel."

Thousands of responses also came in from the Israeli and pro-Israel side. "Welcome to Israel, hope you'll enjoy your stay here. Of course it's not Palestine... It's our country, it will always be our Israel," wrote Avital Motil.

Within four hours, his photo garnered over 209,000 likes and over 32,000 comments, while 6,000 people shared his status. In contrast, his March 7 announcement that the exclusive VIP pack for his new video game launched that day won fewer than 37,000 likes.

Ronaldo's Facebook page

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