By Palestine Chronicle Staff
The ‘Giro d’Italia’, one of cycling’s most prestigious races, will start tomorrow in Israel, despite pressures coming from Palestinian rights activists and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners.
Your participation in giro d'italia over our stolen land is a direct statement of support of the continious illegal policies of land confiscation, ethnic cleansing, house demolitions and deprivation of basic services and right of movement.#Giro101 #BDS48 pic.twitter.com/WFnQnfLrnv
— BDS48 (@1948BDS) May 2, 2018
In a statement, the BDS Movement said the the event represents a “sports-washing of Israel’s occupation and apartheid”.
This would be confirmed by the choice of bestowing Israeli honorary citizenship on the late Gino Bartali, a very popular cyclist, few days before the “Grande Partenza” (Big Start).
Bartali made honorary citizen of Israel. Stage 1 dedicated to him| Bartali nominato cittadino onorario di Israele. La 1a tappa dedicata a lui | Bartali nombrado ciudadano honorario de Israel. La primera etapa está dedicada a él. Read more: https://t.co/zojI3QJB3K # Giro101 #Giro pic.twitter.com/k4AcCNJkxg
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 2, 2018
At the press conference held last September, Israeli officials stated that the race, organized by Italian media conglomerate RCS MediaGroup, will “celebrate” 70 years since the establishment of Israel.
“Starting the Giro in Israel rewards Israel for its decades-long human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, including athletes,” says Sharaf Qutaifan of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. -… https://t.co/Jr1Ui74Ffj via @CdnChange
— Lisa Forman (@LisaMForman) March 20, 2018
Sharaf Qutaifan, from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), said:
“By working with the Israeli government to ‘celebrate’ Israel’s 70th anniversary, race organizers RCS MediaGroup will, in effect, be celebrating 70 years of Palestinian dispossession. Our Nakba, or “catastrophe,” started in 1948 when approximately 800,000 indigenous Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes and continues today with Israel’s policy of systematic forcible transfer, home demolitions and the denial of Palestinian refugees’ UN-sanctioned right of return.”
— Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) May 1, 2018
For the first time ever, a Grand Tour will set off outside Europe. This decision is even more controversial, after Israel’s violent response to the Great March of Return at the Gaza border, where Israeli snipers are targeting unarmed protesters, leading to many deaths and injuries among Palestinians.
Giro d'Italia: Palestinian cyclist shot in Gaza 'disgusted' at Israel staging race
Read more here: … pic.twitter.com/dYx7AWEwTL
— Richard Hardigan (@RichardHardigan) May 3, 2018
According to the Gaza Ministry of Youth and Sports, at least 30 athletes have been injured by the Israeli forces since the beginning of the Great March of Return. Among them, there is also a cyclist, whose leg was amputated after being shot on March 30, during a protest.