For the first time, Israel is set to participate in the Invictus Games, a sporting event organized by the British royal Prince Harry, officials said Tuesday.
The Duke of Sussex founded the international multi-sport event in 2014, in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in nine sports.
The Defense Ministry's Rehabilitation Division and the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization will lead the Israeli delegation during next year's Invictus Games, which will include representatives from various countries around the world, including Britain, Germany, the United States, Italy, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.
A few months ago, the Invictus Games Foundation offered Israel to join the community out of a common international conception of values for the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers through sports.
Since then, the Embassy of Israel in London, Defense Ministry's Rehabilitation Division and the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization have worked tirelessly in recent months to make Israel the 23rd country to take part in the Games.
The Israeli delegation is currently preparing for the tournament, which will take place in the city of Düsseldorf in western Germany in September 2023.
In the past, there were attempts to involve Israel and the disabled IDF veterans in the tournament, but the move had previously been scrapped due to opposition of the Muslim community in Britain.
The Daily Mail newspaper reported in March 2020 that Prince Harry drew ire of UK's Muslims after it emerged that he had invited Israeli soldiers and veterans wounded in battle to participate in the sporting event.
"It will be seen as a way of provoking Arabs by a British Royal," Abdel Bari Atwan, a high-profile Arab journalist in the UK, told the Daily Mail at the time.
Israel's Ambassador to the United Kingdom Tzipi Hotoveli welcomed the move, saying, "I am pleased that Israel has been invited to be part of the Invictus community and to participate in one of the most important events in the world [for the disabled].
"This cooperation adds another layer to the deep ties between the countries, focusing on cooperation in civil society. This will allow Israel and the disabled veterans not only to connect with their friends from around the world and participate in a wonderful event - but also to share Israel's expertise in the fields of rehabilitation, mental health and the creation of a supportive community for disabled people."