Israel Arrests PA Soccer Player

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- It was a good cover while it lasted. A Palestinian soccer player apparently used his position as a means to pass messages between Israel's enemies in different places.

As a member of the Palestinian national soccer team, Samah Bars Mahmad Maraaba represented the Palestinian Authority in international competitions.

But Maraaba, 22, a resident of the Samarian (West Bank) Arab city of Kalkilya, had other plans, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed on Wednesday.

On a visit with the team to Qatar in April, Maraaba met with Talal Ibrahim Abd al-Rahman Sarim, a Hamas operative who gained his freedom in the lopsided prisoner exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The Shin Bet arrested Maraaba when he returned to Israel on April 28, carrying money, a cellphone and written messages to deliver to Hamas operatives in Kalkilya.

Meanwhile, Jabril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Federation, spoke to reporters in Brazil on the sidelines of the 2014 World Cup.

Rajoub called on the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) to impose sanctions against Israel for restricting the movement of Palestinian soccer players from Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

He told reporters he came to Brazil to fight for the "removal of restrictions on the Palestinian players and the freeing of Palestinian sports people from this racist Israeli occupation that has no place in history," according to UPI.

Meanwhile, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that Israelis purchased more than 11,000 tickets for the World Cup Finals, which proportionate to its size is more than any other country. Israel also placed second on the list of ticket sales for countries that don't have a team competing this year. 

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