Israel’s ATP Tennis Tournament Canceled by Gaza Strip Fighting

The ATP Tour canceled its inaugural $1 million Israel Open men’s tennis tournament in Tel Aviv because of fighting in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinians that’s lasted almost four weeks.

The tournament, scheduled for Sept. 15-21, was set to become the first ATP World Tour event held in Israel since 1996. It was previously hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“Sadly, we do not feel we can proceed as planned given the situation in the region,” ATP President Chris Kermode said yesterday in a statement on the organization’s website. “Ensuring the security of our players, fans and all those involved in organizing a world-class event is our number one priority.”

Kermode said the ATP Tour hopes to hold the tournament in Tel Aviv in 2015.

“In the meantime, and much more importantly, we hope for a swift return to peace in the region,” he added.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas militants escalated on July 8 and has been the deadliest in the territory since Israeli settlers and soldiers left in 2005. At least 1,868 Palestinians have been killed, including hundreds of civilians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Sixty-seven Israelis have died, 64 of them soldiers.

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