Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard found himself on the firing line when he tweeted his thoughts on the latest round of escalation between Israel and Hamas on Saturday afternoon.
Howard's tweet, comprised only of the #FreePalestine hashtag, followed a Twitter exchange in which someone pointed out the death toll in Gaza to the basketball star, thewire.com said. By Tuesday, 192 Gazans had been killed in Operation Protective Edge.
Howard, who has some 15 million followers on Twitter, deleted the Tweet after 15 minutes, according to thewire.com. He followed this with a clarification: "Previous tweet was a mistake. I have never commented on international politics and never will."
previous tweet was a mistake. I have never commented on international politics and never will.— Dwight Howard (@DwightHoward) July 12, 2014
He then tweeted, "I apologize if I offended anyone with my previous tweet, it was a mistake!"
I apologize if I offended anyone with my previous tweet, it was a mistake!— Dwight Howard (@DwightHoward) July 12, 2014
Howard's teammate, Israeli basketball star Omri Casspi – the first Israeli NBA player – tweeted his own take on the conflict shortly after Howard's. "600 missiles been fired from GAZA by Hamas in the last 4 days. NUMBERS DONT LIE. STOP LYING," he tweeted to his nearly 50,000 followers.
600 missiles been fired from GAZA by Hamas in the last 4 days. NUMBERS DONT LIE. STOP LYING.— Omri Casspi (@Casspi18) July 12, 2014
The Zionist Organization of America, however, has urged a stronger condemnation, givemesport.com reported. "He should be publicly condemned as strong as Donald Sterling was," the website cited ZOA President Morton Klein as saying.
"Anyone who uses the phrase 'Free Palestine' is either ignorant of the situation or hates the Jewish state of Israel. It's a hateful position. Celebs have great influence. When he makes a ridiculously false statement like 'Free Palestine,' it's frightening," Klein said.
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