Alona Ben Natan ends season due to war in Gaza

Alona Ben Natan will not enter next week’s FIM Bajas World Cup season finale at the Dubai International Baja. In a video published on social media Sunday, the Israeli rider explained she is not within the right state of mind to continue racing in 2023 while her country continues its war in Gaza.

The latest war, another chapter in a decades-long conflict between Israel and Palestine, erupted on 7 October when Hamas attacked southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, resulting in over a thousand civilian deaths and a major hostage crisis. Concurrent with the operation, Natan was competing in the Baja do Oeste in Portugal where she finished forty-first overall and fourteenth among FIM entrants. She returned to Israel following the event, commenting that she felt “lonely and mentally disconnected” in Portugal despite being encouraged by her friends back home to continue the race.

The Jordan Baja, originally set to be the final 2023 round, was cancelled as the host country shares a border with Israel and Palestine’s West Bank. The Dubai International Baja, now the last race of the year, will take place on 9–11 November.

“You know I usually share on my social media about training, competitions, sports, and more but since 7 October I can’t do anything,” she said in her video. “I feel that I can’t continue my normal life after everything that has happened and is still happening in my country and across the whole world. I was supposed to compete in Croatia, in the Dubai Baja in a few days, and in the Jordan Baja that was cancelled.

“I can’t emotionally travel to another country and compete when I know that my friends are fighting here and getting killed every day. I hope to come back to compete next year mentally and physically stronger than ever, representing my country and waving the Israeli flag.”

Natan was racing a part-time schedule in the World Cup in 2023. She finished third in the Women’s Bajas World Cup and seventeenth overall at the Baja España Aragón in June, followed by an eleventh outright and fourth in the Women’s Trophy at the Hungarian Baja two months later.

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