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Chilean soccer club Palestino, founded by Palestinian immigrants, gifts jersey to journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh

By Matias Grez, CNN

(CNN) — Chilean top division soccer club Palestino, which was founded by Palestinian immigrants in 1920, has gifted the team’s jersey to Palestinian journalist Wael Al-Dahdouh, thanking him for his “courage and determination to inform.”

Al-Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief, lost his wife, son, daughter and grandson in October after they were killed in what the television network said was an Israeli airstrike. Al-Dahdouh found out the news while on-air and returned to air less than 24 hours after his family was killed.

The Israeli military has ramped up attacks on central and southern Gaza in recent weeks. Israeli offensives on Gaza since October 7 have killed at least 28,576, the Ministry of Health in Hamas-controlled Gaza said earlier this week.

CNN cannot verify the figures due to the difficulties of reporting from the war zone and also cannot independently confirm the source of the blast at the house that killed Al-Dahdouh’s family, and Al Jazeera did not provide evidence linking it directly to an Israeli strike.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed to CNN that it carried out an airstrike in an area of Gaza where Al-Dahdouh’s relatives were killed. The IDF said that it was targeting “Hamas terrorist infrastructure.”

In January, Al Jazeera announced that Al-Dahdouh had left Gaza and had arrived in Qatar to receive medical treatment on the injuries sustained in an airstrike that killed one of the network’s cameramen, Samer Abu Daqqa.

“Renowned Palestinian journalist, Wael Al-Dahdouh, received our team shirt with the map of Historic Palestine,” Palestino wrote on Instagram.

“Wael is Al-Jazeera’s bureau chief in the Gaza Strip. His wife and children were killed by Israeli attacks on the Nuseirat camp in recent weeks. Thank you Wael for your courage and determination to report. #AnEntirePeople thanks you,” the club added, a reference to its motto: “More than a team, an entire people.”

“We thank Mutaz Al Nazer from the Arab Center Doha for giving him our shirt.”

Palestino’s club crest is made up of the red, white, green and black of the Palestinian flag, with more than 500,000 Palestinians estimated to live in Chile, the largest diaspora outside of the Middle East.

Palestino has won two league titles in its 103-year history and the Chilean Cup three times, the latest as recently as 2018. But more importantly to its fans and the Palestinian community, has been a consistent voice for the Palestinian cause.

Back in 2014, the club was fined by the Chilean football federation for changing the No. 1 on the back of the players’ shirts into the shape of the Palestinian territory before the creation of Israel, the same map present on the back of the shirt given to Al-Dahdouh.

Over the years, fans and players have also regularly worn the keffiyeh, a traditional Palestinian scarf, to matches and the Palestinian flag can be seen in the stands of the team’s La Cisterna stadium at every home game.

The club also helped to organize a demonstration in Santiago’s Plaza de la Constitución in the days after Israel’s offensive began.

The-CNN-Wire
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CNN’s Kevin Flower, Tara John, Kareem El Damanhoury, Abeer Salmam, Kareem Khadder and Lucas Lilieholm and Heather Chen contributed to this report.

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