Israel defends arrest of Palestine football player

FIFA president Sepp Blatter Credit: Reuters

Israel has defended its decision to arrest a Palestine footballer after claiming he is linked to Islamist militants.

Sameh Fares Mohammad is accused of plotting to "harm the state of Israel and its citizens", Israeli Sports Minister Limor Livnat wrote in a letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Livnat said Mohammad met a member of Hamas in Qatar, whom Israel had freed in a prisoner swap, and received money, a mobile phone and notes to pass to the militant group.

The Palestine Football Association has been lobbying FIFA over Mohammad's arrest in April and the clampdown on the movement of Palestinian players and officials in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.