Muslim footy star Sonny Bill Williams weighs in on the Gaza conflict as he poses with his daughters


Sonny Bill Williams has weighed in on the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a passionate social media post.

Williams, 35, shared his thoughts on the crisis alongside a photo of him with his daughters Iman and Aisha, who he shares with wife Alana.

The footy superstar, a proud Muslim, made a similar post days earlier after Israeli police clashed with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

In March he called for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China over Beijing’s treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority group.

Proud dad: Sonny Bill Williams weighed in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Thursday as he posed with his daughters Iman, seven, and Aisha, four, on the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr

Smoke and flames rise from a tower building destroyed by Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence in Gaza City

Smoke and flames rise from a tower building destroyed by Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence in Gaza City

'Eid Mubarak to all my brothers & sisters around the world,' he began his caption, acknowledging the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, which takes place after the month of Ramadan

‘Eid Mubarak to all my brothers & sisters around the world,’ he began his caption, acknowledging the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, which takes place after the month of Ramadan

‘Eid Mubarak to all my brothers & sisters around the world,’ Williams wrote on Thursday, acknowledging the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, which takes place after the month of Ramadan.

He then went on to address the conflict in Gaza where Israel has launched a military offensive as Islamic militant group Hamas fire rockets at Israeli cities. 

‘To the Muslim Ummah facing oppression at masjid Al Aqsa, Palestine. China – Xinjiang. Kashmir. Syria. Iraq. Yemen. Our love and duas are with you,’ he began.

‘To the oppressors and pharaohs of our time you will have to answer for your deeds one day.’ 

He also used the post to shine the light on the Israeli-Gaza conflict, which saw hundreds of Palestinians bombed by Israeli militants on May 10. Pictured, the aftermath of the warzone

He also used the post to shine the light on the Israeli-Gaza conflict, which saw hundreds of Palestinians bombed by Israeli militants on May 10. Pictured, the aftermath of the warzone

A young child is injured during Israeli air raids on the city of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip

A young child is injured during Israeli air raids on the city of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip

He later added: ‘God willing the most high accepts all our good deeds this Ramadan and forgives our shortcomings. Eid Mubarak from mine to yours. Always Alhamdullilah.’

Clashes between fractious Palestine and Israeli forces have simmered since Friday. 

Officials have described the violence as the worst in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 2019. 

The escalation began with confrontations at Al-Asqa Mosque, on the compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary – the most sensitive site in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Since then, nightly clashes at the compound have left hundreds injured and dozens killed.  

Williams tied the knot with wife Alana Raffie, 27, in 2013. The two have four children together

Williams tied the knot with wife Alana Raffie, 27, in 2013. The two have four children together 

Doting dad: Sonny Bill Williams announced the birth of his fourth child, a baby boy, named Essa in Instagram in February 2020

Doting dad: Sonny Bill Williams announced the birth of his fourth child, a baby boy, named Essa in Instagram in February 2020

Why are violent clashes taking place in Jerusalem?

When did the protests start?

From the beginning of Ramadan in mid-April, Palestinians clashed nightly with Israeli police, who put up barriers to stop evening gatherings at the walled Old City’s Damascus Gate after iftar, the breaking of the daytime fast.

Palestinians saw the barriers as a restriction on their freedom to assemble. Police said they were there to maintain order.

Why did the violence flare up again?

An Israeli Supreme Court hearing was due on May 10 in a long-running legal case about whether several Palestinian families would be evicted and their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood near Damascus Gate that was given to Israeli settlers.

Some settlers have already moved into the street affected – living next door to the Palestinians facing possible removal.   

As the court hearing neared, Palestinians and left-wing Israelis began holding larger demonstrations, saying more evictions could cause a domino effect throughout the overwhelmingly Palestinian neighbourhood.

Sheikh Jarrah also contains a site revered by religious Jews as the tomb of an ancient high priest, Simon the Just, leading to frequent tensions between Palestinian living there and religious Jews visiting it.

International attention

The case, in which a lower court ruled that the land in question belonged to Jews in East Jerusalem before the 1948 War, has gathered domestic and international attention, amid criticism of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.

On Sunday U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to his Israeli counterpart to express ‘serious concerns about the potential evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood,’ the White House said. read more

And United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed ‘his deep concern over the continuing violence in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as the possible evictions of Palestinian families from their homes,’ U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Sunday.

What next?

On Sunday the Supreme Court hearing on the evictions was postponed, pushing at least one flashpoint past the end of Ramadan and allowing more time for a resolution. A new session will be scheduled within 30 days. read more

Monday is Jerusalem Day, Israel’s annual commemoration of its capture of East Jerusalem during the 1967 war. The event usually sees a march through the walled Old City by Jewish pilgrims, including ultra-nationalists, which could be another flashpoint.

Why is Jerusalem so sensitive?

Politics, history and religion.

At the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City is the hill known to Jews across the world as Temple Mount – the holiest site in Judaism – and to Muslims internationally as The Noble Sanctuary. It was home to the Jewish temples of antiquity. Two Muslim holy places now stand there, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place in Islam.

Christians also revere the city as the place where they believe that Jesus preached, died and was resurrected.

Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern section as a capital of a future state. Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is unrecognized internationally.

Williams, who converted to Islam in 2008, demanded an Olympics boycott earlier this year after a report from a US think tank claimed the Chinese Communist Party was committing genocide against its Uighur Muslim population.  

‘Are we supposed to be happy about that? It’s inhuman,’ he told the Herald Sun.

‘There should be no question about it [a boycott], that’s the starting point.’ 

Williams compared the Uighurs’ situation to the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany during and before World War II. 

Williams shares his two daughters as well as two sons, three-year-old Zaid and one-year-old Essa, and with wife Alana Raffie, 27. 

The couple tied the knot in secret in 2013. They most recently welcomed their fourth son Essa, in February 2020. 

Family: The footy star is already father to daughters Iman and Aisha, and sons Zaid and Essa

Family: The footy star is already father to daughters Iman and Aisha, and sons Zaid and Essa

At the time, the boxing star announced his newborn son’s name after flying home from the UK to be with his wife as she gave birth. 

The former All Blacks star revealed the couple named their fourth child Essa in heartfelt post to Instagram at the time.  

‘Essa Williams. May the most high bless you to grow up to be a pious, happy, caring and strong willed man. I love you my son,’ Williams wrote alongside a picture of the newborn.

Essa, a Muslim name pronounced Ee-sah, is an Arabic translation of Jesus. 

Sonny converted from Christianity to Islam in 2009 and became the first Muslim to play for the All Blacks. 

Man of faith: Sonny Bill Williams converted from Christianity to Islam in 2009 and became the first Muslim to play for the All Blacks

Man of faith: Sonny Bill Williams converted from Christianity to Islam in 2009 and became the first Muslim to play for the All Blacks



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