Wearing a shirt reading “stop bombing Palestine” pitch invader tried to hug India’s star batter Virat Kohli
The much-awaited World Cup 2023 final between Australia and India came to a halt after a pitch invader entered the ground to raise voice for the Palestinians who have been facing relentless bombing by Israeli forces since October 7.
At least 12,300 Palestinians — including 5,000 children — have died due to the ongoing Israeli offensive in the besieged Gaza Strip whose 2.2 million residents have been stuck in the middle of an unfolding human tragedy due to Israeli blockade and indiscriminate bombardment.
The United Nations, World Health Organisation (WHO), and various other humanitarian organisations have been calling for a much-needed ceasefire in the Gaza Strip due to the worsening human crisis in the beleaguered territory.
Wearing a shirt that read “stop bombing Palestine” on the front and “Free Palestine” on the back, along with a face mask made out of the Palestinian flag, the pitch invader tried to hug India’s star batter Virat Kohli.
The intruder was then escorted out of the ground by the security personnel.
Meanwhile, responding to Indian media’s questions, the pitch invader revealed that he is an Australian citizen and wanted to “meet up” Kohli.
Responding to a question as to why he wore a pro-Palestine shirt, the intruder identified himself as “Wayne Johnson” saying he was protesting against the ongoing war in Palestine.
Johnson was then arrested and taken to Chand Kheda Police station, reported ESPNCricinfo quoting Indian media.
The incident comes as millions of people around the world have been holding protests to express solidarity with the Palestinians.
Earlier in the tournament, Pakistan’s wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan had dedicated his century — against Sri Lanka — to the Gazans reeling from indiscriminate Israeli strikes.
“This was for our brothers and sisters in Gaza. Happy to contribute to the win,” Rizwan wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
The gesture, however, didn’t sit well with Indian lawyer Vineet Jindal who filed a complaint to the International Cricket Council (ICC) against Rizwan terming his action as going against the “spirit of the sports”.
Several other cricketers including Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Iftikhar Ahmed, and leg-spinner Usama Mir have also voiced their support for the Palestinians.