Israeli fencer Yuval Freilich wins gold medal in Qatar, home to Hamas’ leadership

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Israeli fencer Yuval Freilich wins gold medal in Qatar, home to Hamas’ leadership

Freilich, 29, won the epee title in Doha while wearing a uniform with an Israeli flag and the message “Am Israel Chai.

Yuval Freilich
Yuval Freilich

Israeli fencer Yuval Freilich won a gold medal at the 2024 Qatar Grand Prix on Wednesday, becoming a champion in a country that is home to the leadership of Hamas.

Freilich, 29, won the epee title in Doha while wearing a uniform with an Israeli flag and the message “Am Israel Chai,” Hebrew for “the people of Israel lives,” written on his shoulder. As in previous times of crisis, the phrase has become a rallying cry for Israel in its war with Hamas.

After Freilich’s victory, the Israeli national anthem was played in the arena during the podium ceremony — a rarity in a country with no official diplomatic ties to Israel.

The win moves Freilich closer to qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“The win in Qatar and waving the Israeli flag in times like these on this unique stage is Israeli pride at its peak,” said Gili Lustig, the CEO of Israel’s Olympic Committee, according to the Times of Israel.

Despite its lack of formal relations with Israel, Qatar has become a central interlocutor in ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas owing to its unique position: In addition to hosting Hamas’ political leadership, and funding the group, Qatar is also home to a U.S. military base.

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