Israel banned from world hockey championship for "security reasons". GETTY IMAGES

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) issued a statement on Wednesday saying it had suspended Israel from all competitions "for the time being" to protect the safety of participants, "including Israelis".

The news was announced in a statement: "After a careful review of the situation, the IIHF Council has decided that Israel will not participate in IIHF competitions for the time being due to concerns for the safety of all participants in the championships. Israel was scheduled to play in the II-A World Championship in Division II-A in April of next year." 

"In accordance with the IIHF's commitment to the protection of  all participants and its obligation to implement appropriate safety and health measures to that end, the IIHF Council (...) has decided to suspend the participation of the Israeli National Team in IIHF competitions until the safety and well-being of all participants (including Israelis) is guaranteed," the IIHF added, noting that the decision was made after discussions with participating countries and the host country, AFP reported. 

The Israeli team has had to make several changes to its plans since the conflict in Gaza began. Their movement has been restricted and they have been forced to play as hosts outside their territory, both internationally with their national teams and with their national clubs.

Eliezer Sherbatov, captain of Israel, in an archive photo. GETTY IMAGES
Eliezer Sherbatov, captain of Israel, in an archive photo. GETTY IMAGES

No matches could be played until further notice. It asked its clubs to find alternative venues for international matches. This was the case for Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv. Both clubs had matches scheduled at the time. Maccabi Haifa was also forced to play a EuroLeague basketball game against Monaco in Belgrade on 2 January. The national football team played a Euro 2024 qualifier against Switzerland in Hungary on 15 November. 

Some local media are suggesting that the Israel Ice Hockey Federation may take action and discuss the IIHF's decision, possibly turning to the appropriate courts to defend its rights, according to RadioJai, citing information from the Jerusalem Post. The actions of both parties will become clear in the coming days. The Israeli team will not be able to take part in international competitions from now on until further notice.