UPDATE 1-Soccer-Israel Europa match postponed over safety fears

Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:10am EST

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BERNE Nov 21 (Reuters) - Athletic Bilbao's Europa League match away to Hapoel Kiryat Shmona in Israel on Thursday has been postponed for security reasons, UEFA said on Wednesday.

"The UEFA emergency panel met today and decided to postpone the match... due to the tense security situation in the region," said European soccer's governing body in a statement.

"A decision concerning the rescheduling of the match will be made by the end of the week."

A bomb exploded on a bus in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday, wounding 15 people in what Israel's government said was a terrorist attack that could complicate efforts to secure a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The bombing happened on the eighth day of an Israeli offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Tel Aviv are the only Israeli clubs still in European competition this season.

Israel is scheduled to stage the European under-21 championship in June next year and the draw is set to take place as planned in Tel Aviv next Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Europe's national Olympic committees scrapped a congress they were due to hold in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat next month because of the fighting.

UEFA barred Israel from hosting all matches under its sanction between 2002-2004 at the height of the five-year Palestinian uprising when militants carried out numerous shooting attacks and bus bombings against Israelis.

There was a similar but much shorter suspension in 2006 when Israel waged a war against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas who fired 4,000 rockets into Israel. Almost 1,200 people in Lebanon and 157 Israelis were killed during the 34-day conflict. (Reporting by Brian Homewood in Berne; Additional reporting by Ori Lewis in Jerusalem; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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