By Zjan Shirinian

Tel Aviv was set to hold Israel's first ATP World Tour Event since 1996 next month ©AFP/Getty ImagesMajor security concerns in Israel have forced the first Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tournament in the country for 18 years to be cancelled.

The ATP has decided to pull the inaugural Negev Israel Open in Tel Aviv, which was scheduled for September 15 to 21.

It was to be the first ATP World Tour event in Israel since 1996, with matches at the Israel Tennis Centre in Ramat HaSharon.

"We regret the ATP World Tour event in Tel Aviv, Israel, will not take place this year," said Chris Kermode, ATP executive chairman and President.

"Sadly, we do not feel we can proceed as planned given the situation in the region.

"Ensuring the security of our players, fans and all those involved in organising a world-class event, is our number one priority.

"We hope to be back in Tel Aviv next year.

"In the meantime, and much more importantly, we hope for a swift return to peace in the region."

Violence between Israel and Hamas has already seen the International Swimming Federation move the World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships out of the country.

The International Federation of American Football last week pulled its Flag Football World Championship from Israel due to the escalation of violence.

As many as 2,000 people have been killed on both sides of the conflict since it began almost a month ago ©AFP/Getty ImagesAs many as 2,000 people have been killed on both sides of the conflict since it began almost a month ago ©AFP/Getty Images

Asaf Tochmeir, chairman of the Israeli Tennis Association (ITA), said: "We regret the ATP's decision.

"We at the ITA have done everything to ensure a successful ATP event takes place in Israel.

"We have raised sufficient funding and have taken care of all organisational requirements.

"On this occasion, I would like to express our most heartfelt concern for the soldiers as well as our condolences for the civilian casualties.

"We hope to see a swift resolution to the current situation."

More than 1,800 Palestinians are thought to have been killed in the conflict, which began almost a month ago, with 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians also killed.

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