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Tunisia to let 7-year-old Israeli girl participate in world chess tournament

Published: Updated:

The Tunisian Chess Federation issued a letter Tuesday stating that players from all countries are invited “without exception” to an international chess championship that it will be hosting next year.

The letter means that the seven-year-old Israeli chess champion Liel Levitan will attend the 2019 World School Championship chess tournament in Sousse, Tunisia.

The letter was released as a response to an inquiry by the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

The letter added “as a sports federation, we will be very proud and honored to receive participants from all over the world and we will ensure hospitality to all.”

When Liel won the gold medal of the European Championships, her parents and the Israeli Chess Federation started a campaign to force Tunisia to allow her in the country in the wake of potential refusal from Tunisian activists against this normalization in all fields.

Some Tunisian activists used to refer cases to courts in order to ban Israeli athletes from taking part in international competitions hosted by the North African country.

However, according to Rene Trabelsi, co-organizer of the annual Lag B'Omer pilgrimage in Djerba resort, Tunisia hosts 3,000 Jews, including some 400 Israelis who took part in this year’s festivities without any negative incident.

The number of Jews in Tunisia has fallen significantly in the 20th century, from around 100,000 before independence from France in 1956 to an estimated 1,500 today.