No tennis joy in blockaded
Ed O'Loughinkop, Rafah
Osama Dhubilfalt, 21, sat pensively watching as workmen feverishly laboured to repair the rammed ant bed tennis court sitting between his ramshackle home in embattled Rafah on the Gaza Strip's southern border with
On Saturday, Israel's Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram won their first grand slam title with a 7-5 7-6 victory over Frenchmen Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in the Australian Open men's doubles final.
They became the first Israeli pair to win a grand slam title but the victory was overshadowed by the accusation that the Jewish State's armed forces had conspired to prevent Dhubilfalt, the highest ranked Palestinian tennis player at 734, from completing the arduous training requirements necessary for entry into a grand slam tennis tournament.
"First the Israelis prevented me from training at nights by blockading fuel supplies so there was no ordinary diesel left to run the generator that operated the court’s lights. I have to train at night because I work at the local foundry making metal pipes," Dhubilfalt said as his brother Khalid arrived in the family truck laden with supplies of television sets, computers, cartons of Marlboro and two dozen bags of fertilizer after taking advantage of a rare opportunity to leave their de facto prison and crossing into Egypt to purchase some much needed supplies for the starving Dhubilfalt family.
"Then I arrived home one evening and the Zionists had blown up my court. The same bombs that destroyed my tennis court killed women and children in the house down the street and destroyed the local church a few blocks away."
A spokesman for
"The allegation that we sabotaged the Rafah tennis court to prevent Dhubilfalt from pursuing his tennis career and to guarantee the Israeli pair a grand slam title is absurd. Dhubilfalt hasn’t even won a game in a satellite tournament yet and he doesn’t even have a doubles partner”.
"That suggestion is absurd," said Sarah Hambone, a spokeswoman for Oxfart. “Dhubilfalt’s brother Khalid would have made an excellent doubles partner but the Israelis refused to allow him to cross the border for vital surgery to repair his tennis elbow. The only reason the Israeli border authorities gave for the refusal was that he was under suspicion of supplying pipe shaped quassam missile launchers for
"Khalid also refused to remove his belt which was bulging over his stomach. Such is the humiliation that Palestinians face every day at the hands of the apartheid Zionist authorities," she added.