Mahmoud Sarsak's story became global news last year. The 23-year-old lost half of his body weight in a 93-day hunger strike after being held without charge in by the Israeli authorities for three years. Sarsak was accused of being involved in terrorist activities. His release came after the intervention of senior football figures such as FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
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Help from above —
High-profile figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu signed an 8,000-signature calling for Sarsak's release. An open letter was also sent to British newspaper The Guardian.
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Release and rejoice —
Sarsak's eventual release in July 2012 sparked scenes of wild celebration. This picture shows his return to his hometown of Rafah.
Life on the line —
An Israeli army tank is seen along the Erez crossing passage along the southern Israeli border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip in November 2012. Sarsak was arrested at the crossing in 2009.
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This year Sarsak was part of a protest outside the UEFA Congress in London. Demonstrators were calling for a boycott of the European Under-21 Championship in Israel.
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Soccer salvation —
Palestinian youths watch a local football match, just before sunset, at a refugee camp in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on July 28, 2012. Sarsak grew up in Rafah, with football as his only distraction. "It runs through the family blood," he says.
Defending champions —
Spain won the last European Under-21 Championship, held in Denmark in 2011. Luis Milla's team beat Switzerland 4-0 in the final, with players such as Bayern Munich midfielder Javi Martinez and Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata starring for La Roja.
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Tournament opener —
The first game of the 2013 UEFA Under-21 Championship was between hosts Israel and Norway on Wednesday at the Netanya Stadium, and finished 2-2.