‘Do not get used to suffering’ in Gaza, Liverpool’s Salah says in Christmas message

By Hatem Maher

CAIRO (Reuters) – Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah said on Monday that families grieving for their loved ones in Gaza should not be forgotten, as he issued an emotional Christmas message marking only his second comment on the war in the enclave.

Salah posted a black-and-white picture of a Christmas tree on his social media pages, saying he was approaching Christmas with a heavy heart amid the fighting in Gaza, which has been under intense bombardment by Israel since Hamas militants launched a cross-border rampage on Oct. 7.

Israel says Hamas militants killed 1,200 people and took around 240 people hostage in their attack. Israel’s ensuing bombardment of Gaza has killed more than 20,400 people and wounded at least 50,000, according to authorities in the Hamas-ruled strip.

“With the brutal war going on in the Middle East, especially the death and destruction in Gaza, this year we get to Christmas with very heavy hearts and we share the pain of those families who are grieving the loss of their loved ones,” Salah said.

“Please do not forget them and do not get used to their suffering. Merry Christmas,” Salah wrote to his more than 63 million followers on Instagram and almost 19 million on X.

Salah had faced some criticism in his native Egypt after staying silent on the issue for more than a week after the war started, with many fans comparing his stance to other Arab sports figures who have been more vocal about it.

Egyptian Red Crescent officials said in October that Salah had made a “significant donation” to help the people of Gaza.

In his first comments on the conflict in October, less than two weeks after the war started, Salah called for an end to what he described as “massacres”, appealing for humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza.

The 31-year-old is one of the leading scorers in the English Premier League this season.

(Reporting by Hatem Maher; Editing by Hugh Lawson)