Soccer player and resistance fighter Ahmad Daraghmeh killed in Nablus

Ahmad Atef Daraghmeh (Social Media)

Mariam Barghouti

Mondoweiss  /  December 23, 2022

Ahmad Atef Daraghmeh was the 229th Palestinian to be killed this year and the 15th Palestinian to be killed in December alone.

On Thursday, December 22nd, Israeli forces shot and killed 23-year-old Ahmad Atef Daraghmeh, a promising soccer player, in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

Shortly after midnight on Thursday, Israeli military forces raided Joseph’s Tomb with armored military vehicles and weapons in order to escort a group of Jewish settlers to conduct prayers and religious rituals at the site. 

The raid sparked confrontations with Palestinians in the area and lasted into the early hours of Thursday morning.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, three other Palestinians were injured with live ammunition, while more than 20 Palestinians were injured through tear gas inhalation. 

Joseph’s Tomb has become a flashpoint of Israeli violence in recent years, with several Palestinians killed during confrontations at the site over the past year. The Israeli military frequently escorts large groups of Jewish settlers to the area, provoking the local Palestinian community.

A football player and a Palestinian under occupation

Daraghmeh was no stranger to Israeli incursions and abuses. 

Daraghmeh’s brother, Adham Daraghmeh, has been in Israeli military detention since December 28, 2021. His father, Atef Daraghmeh, has spent 12 years as a political detainee in Israeli prisons. 

In footage acquired by local Palestinian journalists of the moment Daraghmeh was shot and killed, the 23-year-old is seen holding a rifle but was not shooting at the time he was shot and killed. 

Daraghmeh was buried in his hometown of Tubas on Thursday afternoon, covered in a green flag to signal a Hamas affiliation. Yet, the funeral procession showed a diversity of factional flags waving around Daraghmeh. 

Several factional groups, recent and older, mourned the loss of Daraghmeh, including Palestinian armed resistance group based out of Nablus, Lions’ Den, Hamas, the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) which is the leading umbrella group for the armed coalition of the Jenin Brigade.

Daraghmeh was also a soccer player with the Palestinian Football League. Since 1967, more than 700 Palestinian athletes have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers.

Jibril Rjoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association and the Palestine Olympic Committee, and the Football team released a statement condemning Daraghmeh’s killing, saying “This new crime against an athlete and a Palestinian player is a new addition to the series of crimes which persist against sports and Palestinian athletes specifically.”

Rjoub’s statement also called for accountability, saying, “We demand that FIFA and all relevant international and regional organizations uphold their laws of human rights and to undertake punitive measures against the criminal occupation and its institutions,” the statement concluded. 

The Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh also condemned the killing and called on FIFA to condemn the assassination of the player calling for holding the criminals accountable. 

A mother’s pain

A video of Daraghmeh’s mother bidding farewell to her son before his burial was shared widely on Palestinian social media Thursday, along with photos and videos of Daraghmeh playing soccer for local leagues. 

Holding the pale body of her son, Daraghmeh’s mother demands everyone to be quiet “nobody speak!” she kept yelling at the hospital. “I fixed your bed and your sheets, yama” (Yama which means mother in Arabic, is used as a term of endearment as though calling the child darling). 

“Where do I go without you, darling?” Daraghmeh’s mother kept yelling. “Tell me where to go!” She kept holding her son’s body and began kissing his feet. In shock, denial, and anger, she kept refusing to let go. His aunt next to him kept saying, “a lion, you are a lion,” as though encouraging her dead nephew. Daraghmeh’s brother was unable to mourn as he remained in Israeli prisons, notorious for their abuses.

On Tuesday, December 21, Palestinian political detainee and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade founder Nasser Abu Humeid, 50, succumbed to his cancer inside Israeli prisons. Abu Humeid was killed by medical negligence from the Israeli Prison Services (IPS). 

At the time of Daraghmeh’s killing, Israeli forces were also escalating the arbitrary imprisonment of Palestinians (holding them in jail with no trials or indictment charges) and abuses against Palestinian political detainees. This may only persist in light of right-wing extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir taking control of the Ministry of Internal Security which includes the IPS.

Daraghmeh is the 229th Palestinian to be killed this year and the 15th Palestinian to be killed in December alone.

Mariam Barghouti is the Senior Palestine Correspondent for Mondoweiss