The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has postponed all matches scheduled in Israel over the next couple of weeks due to the ongoing conflict in the country, the European soccer governing body announced on Sunday.
“In light of the current security situation in Israel, UEFA has decided to postpone all matches scheduled in Israel in the next couple of weeks with new dates to be confirmed in due course,” UEFA said in a statement.
The matches affected include Thursday’s Euro 2024 qualifier between Israel and Switzerland, as well as Israel’s Euro Under-21 championship matches against Estonia and Germany.
A mini tournament, scheduled from October 10-17, involving Under-17 teams from Israel, Belgium, Gibraltar and Wales was postponed as well.
Another Euro 2024 qualifying match between Israel and Kosovo, scheduled for October 15, may also be postponed, UEFA warned, adding they’ll wait a few more days to decide.
“UEFA will continue to closely monitor the situation and will remain in contact with all teams involved before making decisions on new dates and on potential changes to other upcoming fixtures,” UEFA said in its statement.
The announcement comes as fighting in Israel rages on after Hamas fighters breached the border from Gaza in an unprecedented surprise attack Saturday. Israel has been pounding Gaza with airstrikes and formally declared war on Hamas Sunday.
What this chapter of the long-simmering conflict looks like remains to be seen, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has predicted a “long and difficult war”, and a military spokesperson hinted that Israel may try to take full control of Gaza for the first time since it unilaterally withdrew from the territory in 2005.
Officials say the death toll in Israel has passed 700 and more than 400 Palestinians have died, according to the health ministry in Gaza.
Videos show the horror on the ground, including an attack on a music festival that killed at least 250 people. Hamas says it has taken at least 100 Israeli hostages. Among those known to have been taken are multiple women and children.