SYDNEY, Australia — Two more pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested as Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer lost in the semifinals of a tournament in New Zealand.
Peer, 22 and ranked No. 30 in the world, lost last Friday to third-seeded Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in the ASB Classic in Auckland.
Prior to last Friday’s arrests, seven other members of Global Peace and Justice Auckland and Palestine Human Rights Campaign Auckland, including the organizer of the protests, were arrested.
Play had to be suspended on Jan. 6 as officials debated whether to continue Peer’s match due to the small but noisy demonstration outside the tennis complex.
The protesters, members of Global Peace and Justice Auckland and Palestine Human Rights Campaign Auckland, used a loud speaker to chant “blood, blood on your hands,” “freedom for Palestine,” and “go home, Shahar,” according to the New Zealand Herald.
One man was arrested by police and charged with disorderly behaviour, local media reported. Similar protests took place during Peer’s match at the venue last Tuesday.
“I also want peace in the world,” Peer said after the match. “But I don’t think this is the place for this protest. I came here to play tennis. I know I’m from Israel, and I’m proud of my country.”
Global Peace and Justice, which supports a sports boycott against Israel, staged a similar demonstration against Peer at the same event last year.
The organizer of the protests, John Minto, who called for Pe’er to withdraw from the tournament and for a sports boycott against Israel, told local media: “There will be bigger and bigger protests here in Auckland protesting against her presence in representing Israel’s policies.”
Meanwhile, Peer will be allowed to play in this year’s Women’s Tennis Association tournament in Dubai, starting Feb. 15, following a furor last year after she was denied a visa because of “security concerns” following Israel’s military operation in Gaza.
The United Arab Emirate’s Ministry of Interior has written to the WTA Tour confirming she will be granted a visa, London’s Telegraph reported.
The UAE does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.