Standing with Gaza, football fans in Germany hand out watermelon caps before EURO 2024 matches

Standing with Gaza, football fans in Germany hand out watermelon caps before EURO 2024 matches

NGO distributes caps before Spain vs. Italy, Türkiye vs. Portugal, Scotland vs. Hungary matches, as watermelons echo colors of Palestinian flag

By Mesut Zeyrek

STUTTGART, Germany – Football fans in Germany were given caps embroidered with images of watermelons as a symbol of solidarity with Palestine before several UEFA EURO 2024 group matches this week.

The solidarity caps were distributed before the Spain vs. Italy match on June 20 in Gelsenkirchen, Türkiye vs. Portugal game on June 22 in Dortmund, and Scotland vs. Hungary match on Sunday in Stuttgart as watermelons echo the colors of the Palestinian flag.

"We want to make our voice heard here about the (Israeli) oppression committed against our Palestinian brothers," one of the sponsors of the voluntary event in Germany, Mehmet Simsek, told Anadolu earlier this week in Gelsenkirchen.

Simsek said Muslims should be concerned about it and "do something" in protest.

"It is impossible to turn a blind eye to this genocide (against Palestinians). The people who commit this genocide (in Gaza), have faced a genocide in the past. Now they (Israel) are committing it."

However, he said the German police prevented the volunteers from giving the fans some of the solidarity caps in Gelsenkirchen.

"Nearly 50,000 caps were produced. We wanted to hand out these caps here, but it was not allowed by police," Simsek added.

- Solidarity caps given before Türkiye vs. Portugal match

The same non-governmental group distributed the solidarity caps to fans at the BVB Stadion Dortmund before the Türkiye vs. Portugal match on Saturday.

Vahdettin Bayram, a Turkish volunteer, told Anadolu that they gave out the caps to help voice "the oppression in Gaza to Europeans."

Bayram said that as part of Türkiye's stance on Palestine, Turkish businessmen in Germany made 50,000 watermelon logo caps to raise awareness of the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

"We first handed out these hats before the (June 20) Italy vs. Spain match, and today we’re giving them out before the Türkiye vs. Portugal match," Bayram said.

Both the June 20 game and Saturday’s were played in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state.

Bayram said the volunteers including him are acting against the injustice in Gaza, and they will continue to hand out caps until the end of the European Championship on July 14.

Volkan Baran, a German politician of Turkish descent and North Rhine-Westphalia deputy, wore a watermelon cap before the Türkiye vs. Portugal match.

"The world shouldn’t close its eyes to what’s happening in Palestine. Some 45,000 innocent people have been killed. There was an attack on Israel (last October), but unfortunately the response was very disproportionate. In a court decision, the UN told Israel to stop the war but unfortunately it didn’t," he said.

Baran said that he believes the international community will raise its voice to stop this attack, and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu will face trial in his own country.

"Because half of the Israeli people are on out the streets protesting the Israeli government," he added.

- Palestine solidarity caps a hit with fans

Turkish football fans were keen to get the solidarity caps.

"As Turks, we always stand by Palestine," said Ayse Can, a Turkish fan. "We always support them," she said, adding that they are also boycotting Israel.

Turkish fan Bunyamin Sonmez said he wore the cap to show that he stands with the Palestinian people.

"I hope we will do whatever is necessary to save them from (Israeli) oppression," Sonmez said.

Nevzat Karakaya, who came to Dortmund to watch the match, said that their hearts beat for Palestine and the people of Gaza.

Eylul Karakaya also said Palestine is in their hearts, adding that he hopes "justice will find its way" in Palestine.

- Scottish, Hungarian fans get their caps in Stuttgart

Volunteers carried out the same activity before Sunday's match between Scotland and Hungary at Stuttgart Arena.

The watermelon caps were given to both Scottish and Hungarian football fans in Stuttgart to raise awareness.

"I think what is happening in Palestine is a complete genocide," Yasin Yilmaz, a Turkish volunteer, told Anadolu, adding that humanity is disregarded on this issue.

"A watermelon slice (on the caps) symbolizes Palestine and its colors. It also tells us that Palestine is a piece of it."

Yilmaz said the fans in Stuttgart like wearing this cap because they are aware of Israel's genocide.

- Israel's 8-month war on Gaza

Flouting a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7 attack by Palestine resistance group Hamas.

More than 37,500 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and nearly 86,000 injured, according to local health authorities.

More than eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water, and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its operation in Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

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