Middle East News
Israeli tennis player faces protests over Gaza
Jan 7, 2009, 19:28 GMT
Wellington - Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer will face a shoe-waving protest over her country's invasion of Gaza at the ASB Classic tournament in Auckland on Thursday.
Local activist John Minto, who led a campaign against New Zealand's sporting contacts with apartheid South Africa in the 1970s, said she should withdraw from the tournament to bring attention to the plight of Palestinians.
'She is a high profile figure in Israel, and for her to make a stand would have a significant effect,' he told the New Zealand Herald.
He said his organisation, Global Peace and Justice, had asked demonstrators to bring old shoes to the protest outside the stadium.
'To show the base of your shoe is a grave insult in the Middle East, which is appropriate to her participation in the tournament.'
The 22-year-old Peer, ranked 39 in the world, shrugged off calls for her to withdraw, saying, 'I came here to play tennis. I know I'm from Israel and I'm proud of my country.'
Of events at home, she said, 'I hope as soon as possible it will end and we will all be happy, because no one wants to be in a war.'
Tournament director Brenda Perry said security would be increased at the venue and anyone trying to protest inside the stadium would be removed.