Messi Embroiled in Social Media Fight Over Gaza

Having expressed sympathy for Palestinian youth, Barcelona soccer star asked to share similar sentiment for Israeli child killed by mortar.

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after winning their 2014 World Cup quarter-finals against Belgium at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia July 5, 2014.
Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after winning their 2014 World Cup quarter-finals against Belgium at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia July 5, 2014.Credit: Reuters

Lionel Messi's expression of sympathy for Palestinian children killed during Operation Protective Edge has elicited a counter-campaign since the death of Daniel Tragerman, the four-year old Nahal Oz resident killed by a Hamas mortar on Friday.

"As a father and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, I am terribly saddened by the images coming from the conflict between Israel and Palestine, where violence has already claimed so many young lives and to injure countless children," Messi had posted on his Facebook page on August 7.

"Children did not create this conflict, but they are paying the ultimate price. This cycle of senseless violence must stop. We must reflect on the consequences of military conflicts and children must be protected."

Tragerman, the first Israeli child to be killed in the conflict since it erupted in early July, was a fan of Barcelona, Messi's team, and was depicted in Israeli newspapers wearing a shirt of Argentina's national soccer team, of which Messi is a member.

"Take a look at that boy, Daniel Tregerman, [sic] wearing the national jersey of the best player in the world," wrote Tel Aviv resident Liran Cohen on his Facebook page on Friday. "As you can see, you were Daniel's hero. He was killed today, by a mortar which was fired by Hamas, the terror organization your team's #1 sponsors is sponsoring. Is this what you stand for?"

Cohen was referring to Qatar Airways, sponsor of Barcelona. Qatar has been the main backer of Hamas, along with Turkey, on the diplomatic front since the conflict broke out.

The post went viral, garnering over 5,000 'Likes' and 1,000 shares. Many Israelis have tweeted photos of Tragerman in his Argentina shirt, tagging Messi as well.

Messi has yet to respond on his Facebook page, nor has he made any further comments on the conflict in Gaza since August 7.

Daniel Tregerman

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