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Gary Lineker hounded on Twitter for sharing video of caged Palestinian children

Former England footballer attacked by former senior Israeli official and Israeli supporters for criticising abuse of human rights
Gary Lineker is one of the UK's best paid television presenters (AFP)

Former England footballer Gary Lineker has been hounded by Israel supporters on Twitter after sharing a video of young Palestinian children being held in a small cage by Israeli forces.

The video, published by the human rights group B'tselem, shows Israeli soldiers gathering and violently detaining Palestinian youths in Hebron in the illegally occupied West Bank, on 13 October.  

Lineker, now a successful television presenter who fronts the BBC's flagship Match of the Day highlights show, shared a tweet containing the video which had originally been posted by Ben White, a pro-Palestinian journalist and activist and Middle East Eye contributor, and added the comment "sickening".

White's tweet was also shared by the UK branch of Amnesty International, which called on its supporters to sign a petition urging the British government to ban trade with illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Following his tweet, Lineker found himself in a row with the former spokesman for the Israeli army, Peter Lerner, who told him he had "completely missed the point".

In response to Lineker, Lerner said his tweet was "lacking context".

According to AFP, there are some 6,500 Palestinians currently detained by Israel for a range of offences and alleged crimes. There are 1,100 political prisoners, according to rights groups.

While Israel supporters attacked Lineker for his tweet, others expressed support for his "condemning" of the violence used.

Lineker's tweet was also picked up and shared by other high-profile supporters of Palestine including Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters, who has highlighted the plight of Palestinians during his current concert tour of North America, and film director Ken Loach.

Other users replied directly to Lerner in support of Lineker.

This is not the first time Lineker has found himself in a row on Twitter after posting pro-Palestinian content. In 2015, Lineker was attacked for sharing a video published by Electronic Intifada, a Palestinian activist website, showing Israeli soldiers shooting a Palestinian who had been throwing stones.

In a subsequent tweet on Tuesday, Lineker wished his followers a happy Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, which began in the evening.

Lineker, who has 6.8m followers on Twitter, has earned a reputation for forthright and opinionated comments on social media in recent years, belying his former reputation as a mild-mannered sports presenter.

A report released by the BBC in July revealed Lineker was the organisation's second-highest earner, with an annual salary of £1,750,000-£1,799,999 ($2.3m-$2.4m)

Lineker has also previously presented Champions League football for Al Jazeera Sports, now known as beIN Sports.

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Lineker was a prolific striker who was top scorer at the 1986 World Cup and also helped England to reach the semifinals of the 1990 tournament. His club sides included Barcelona, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.

Earlier this month he hosted the draw in Moscow for next year's World Cup in Russia, drawing criticism from human rights campaigners who say the tournament amounts to a lavish public relations exercise for Vladimir Putin's government.

Lineker said he had passed on his fee for hosting the event to the British Red Cross.

B'tselem later tweeted thanks to Lineker for sharing the video and described the Israeli soldiers' treatment of the children depicted in the video as routine in the West Bank.

Support for the Palestinian cause in football has been expressed most vocally by fans of Scottish champions Celtic, who last year displayed Palestinian flags at a Champions League playoff match with Israeli champions Hapoel Beer Sheva.

The Glasgow club was subsequently fined by UEFA, European football's governing body, while fans also raised about $235,000 for Palestinian charities.

Last weekend Celtic fans unfurled banners reading "Jerusalem is Palestine" and "F*** Trump" in response to the US President's announcement that the American embassy in Israel would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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