Palestine has withdrawn from the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia ©Getty Images

Palestine's men's football team has withdrawn from the Merdeka Cup tournament in Malaysia after the outbreak of fighting in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Hamas fighters broke through the barrier between Gaza and Israel on Saturday (October 7), launching a murderous assault that has left more than 900 people dead, including around 250 at a music festival.

The Islamist group also pummelled Israel with rockets and took several hostages, while Israel responded with air strikes in what is the biggest flare up in hostilities between the two neighbours since the 1970s.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed and Israel has announced that its response to the surprise attack is just getting started, amid an ongoing siege and expected ground invasion.

The Merdeka Cup was due to feature Malaysia, India, Tajikistan and Palestine and be played between October 13 and 17.

"The Palestinian team had to withdraw from participating in this 42nd edition because they could not fly to Kuala Lumpur due to the tense situation in the country at the moment," the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) said.

Hundreds have been killed after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, which responded with airstrikes ©Getty Images
Hundreds have been killed after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, which responded with airstrikes ©Getty Images

Organisers added that the tournament will continue with the three remaining teams.

India will play Malaysia at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on October 13, with the winners meeting Tajikistan in the final on October 17.

"The format change is the best solution that has been reached at a special meeting between FAM as the organiser of the 2023 Independence Cup [Merdeka] with the management of the Indian and Tajikistan teams, this morning after taking into account the time constraints following the withdrawal of the Palestinian team," the FAM added. 

UEFA has already postponed football matches due to be held in Israel, including a European Championship qualifier.

Israel were due to play Switzerland in Tel Aviv on Thursday (October 12) but the match has been postponed. 

European Under-21 Championship qualifying matches against Estonia and Germany, scheduled for October 12 and 17 respectively, have also been called off alongside a mini-tournament involving the under-17 sides of Israel, Belgium, Gibraltar and Wales.

Palestine are due to play World Cup qualifiers against Lebanon and Australia in November.