NRL star Josh Addo-Carr has apologised a day after he uploaded an Instagram post comparing the Middle East conflict to Indigenous land rights.
As the death toll in the bloody war between Israel and Hamas rose above 2200 people, the Bulldogs winger explained he believed he was posting a “message of respect for all people”.
Boxing: Tszyu vs Mendoza SUN 15th OCT 12PM AEDT | Order Now with Main Event on Kayo Sports
Addo-Carr had posted a photo of Aboriginal and Palestinian flags next to each other with the caption “One struggle, one fight” while the phrase “Land Back” was accompanied by two Arabic words.
But via a statement, Addo-Carr said the post was “a mistake”.
“I would like to begin by apologising for any offence I have caused due to my recent social media post,” Addo-Carr said.
“As a proud First Nations man, I saw a message of support against displacement and land rights, and I shared this without full consideration to, or understanding of, the current events happening overseas.
“I recognise that this is a mistake. As soon as it was brought to my attention, I deleted my post and felt remorse.
“Having gone away and looked at what is happening overseas, it is a complex situation. There are no winners in war and where there is loss of life. The message I thought I was sharing, was a message of respect for all people.
“This is the message I wish to share now. Respect; respect for each other, and each other’s culture.
“I recognise that I am a public figure and someone that young kids especially look up to, and I want to do better. I want to be a good role model for them, for the sport and for my culture.
“That’s why I would like to own this mistake, and recent actions, express my sincere apologies, and ask that we aim to treat each other with respect.
“As the situation overseas is ongoing, complex, and emotive, I won’t be making any further comments at this time. My thoughts are with anyone affected by the situation.”
The conflict erupted when Hamas, the Palestinian militant group which rules the Gaza Strip, launched a surprise attack against Israel on Saturday, infiltrating the country, massacring hundreds of Israelis and taking hostages.
Israel has since launched a wave of air strikes and imposed a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip, cutting off access to food and electricity for its 2.3 million residents.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his country was now “at war” with Hamas after Saturday’s surprise attack.
The territory, which occupies 363 square kilometres along the Mediterrean Sea, is one of the most densely populated places on earth, with more than two million people living there. The impoverished Palestinian enclave has already been under a blockade since 2007, with tight restrictions on what can come in or out.
Since the war broke out over the weekend, these rules have tightened further – with Israel now blocking all food, supplies and electricity from entering Gaza.
Meanwhile, Hamas has vowed to execute one hostage every time no notice is given of an impending Israeli attack.
A mother and her two young daughters, and a female student, are among dozens of people believed to have been kidnapped in Israel by Hamas fighters over the weekend.
Addo-Carr’s post came a week after he was stood down for the Australian squad for the Pacific Championships and handed a two-match ban for his part in a brawl at the Koori Knockout.
Addo-Carr isn’t the only player who’s sparked controversy after Sonny Bill Williams appeared to support a statement that Palestinian militants should be seen as “freedom fighters”.
It led to Nine stablemate Ray Hadley calling for him to be sacked.