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Mahmoud Sarsak

Resilient Palestinian Footballer

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Date of Birth:



Rafah, Gaza Strip

Place of Birth:

Why Featured?

Symbol of Resilience and Resistance

Brief bio

Mahmoud Sarsak is a former Palestinian national football team player who gained international attention due to his imprisonment by Israel without formal charges and his subsequent hunger strike. His case highlighted the struggles faced by Palestinian athletes and became a focal point for international advocacy efforts.

Major Milestones


  • Arrest and Detention: In 2009, Sarsak was detained by Israeli forces, accused of affiliations with militant groups, a charge he denied. He was held without trial under Israel's 'unlawful combatants' law.

  • Hunger Strike: In 2012, Sarsak embarked on a nearly three-month-long hunger strike, protesting his detention without charges or trial, which drew international attention and support.

  • Release: After 92 days of hunger striking, Sarsak was released on July 10, 2012, following extensive international pressure, including from prominent sports figures and organizations.

  • Advocacy: Following his release, Sarsak has been active in raising awareness about the plight of Palestinian prisoners and the impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian sports.

  • International Engagements: He has participated in various international forums and discussions, highlighting the challenges faced by Palestinians, particularly in the realm of sports and human rights.

  • Highlighting Injustice: Through his plight, Sarsak brought international attention to the issue of administrative detention and the broader injustices faced by Palestinian athletes under Israeli occupation...See More

  • Inspiring Solidarity: His case prompted solidarity from international sports organizations, athletes, and activists, fostering a broader dialogue about human rights and sports.

  • Advocating for Prisoner Rights: Since his release, Sarsak has been a vocal advocate for the rights of Palestinian prisoners, participating in campaigns and public speaking.

  • Promoting Palestinian Nationalism: Sarsak has used his platform to promote Palestinian national identity and resilience through sports.

  • International Speaker: He has spoken at various international venues, sharing his experiences and the broader Palestinian struggle, influencing public opinion and policy discussions related to Palestine and human rights...See More

Date of Last Update: 
July 8, 2024

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