Chile echoes the sentiment: ‘Gaza persists, Palestine endures.’

Chile: Thousands of miles away from the Middle East, Palestine is symbolically present for the duration of a 90-minute soccer match.

Once again, Chileans and Palestinians came together to create this alternate reality on Thursday. Club Deportivo Palestino, rooted in the legacy of Palestinian immigrants who arrived in South America during the early 1900s, paid tribute to the Gazan victims of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

During this tribute, a banner displaying the message “In memory of those who are no longer with us” was showcased in the stands. An entire section of seats was intentionally left vacant to represent the lives lost.

Club president Jorge Uauy informed AFP, “We chose to reserve a section in our stands and leave it unoccupied… as a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the distressing events unfolding in Gaza.”

Chile hosts the largest Palestinian community outside the Arab world, with its initial immigrants originating from Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour.

The soccer club emerged in 1920 as the Palestinian community, estimated now at 500,000 individuals, expanded. The players wore green, white, and red striped jerseys, embellished with a map illustrating the territory before Israel’s establishment, and observed a minute of silence.

Accompanied by children wearing keffiyehs, the team expressed solidarity. In a previous match, the players themselves sported the traditional Palestinian scarves.

Club president Uauy stated, “There are various means of expressing empathy and support for Palestine. Today, it was the children—a way to demonstrate their profound connection.”

“We anticipate that Palestinians will witness the solidarity from other parts of the globe, realizing that many people care about their situation and stand in solidarity with them.”

The recent conflict between Israel and Hamas, which governs the blockaded Gaza Strip, commenced on October 7. Israeli authorities report nearly 1,200 casualties, primarily civilians, due to a bloody cross-border raid by Hamas fighters.

Gaza authorities claim nearly 15,000 fatalities following the Israeli military’s bombardment and ground invasion, a majority being women and children.

Amidst colorful support from the club’s fans in the stands, chants of “Gaza resists, Palestine exists” resonated alongside the beats of drums and trumpets.

However, 11 minutes into the game, the fans ceased their chants, allowing a solitary trumpet to echo a mournful melody.

“We bring them a moment of happiness,” stated supporter Jorge Yarur, 57, while journalism student Benjamin Contardo, 20, emphasized the fans’ strong commitment to the Palestinian cause. “For us, Palestine embodies more than just a team… It represents an entire population, and we aspire to echo the voice of all,” he added.

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