Palestinian footballer killed by Israel in West Bank: Medics

Israeli forces shot dead the 23-year-old Palestinian and wounded five others in Nablus during a raid.

Palestinian medics say Israeli forces have shot dead a 23-year-old footballer and wounded five others during confrontations in the occupied West Bank.

Ahmed Daraghmeh was mortally wounded early on Thursday when Palestinians exchanged fire with Israeli troops who raided the city of Nablus to escort Jewish Israelis to a site known as Joseph’s Tomb in the Palestinian city.

The sound of gunfire was heard in amateur videos that Palestinians recorded from their windows.

Daraghmeh was from the nearby town of Tubas. Local Palestinian media reported that he played football for the West Bank Premier League club Thaqafi Tulkarem.

The popular Arabic football website Kooora listed him as having been the team’s top scorer this season, with six goals.

It was unclear whether he was taking part in the confrontations.

The Israeli military said they had fired at Palestinians who had thrown explosives and shot at Israeli troops when they arrived in Nablus, before adding that “suspects” were hit.

The Palestinian group Hamas, which controls the blockaded Gaza Strip, said that Daraghmeh was a member, but did not specify whether he was engaged in fighting when he was killed.

Some 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem this year, according to official figures, making 2022 the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2006.

Another 31 people have also been killed in Palestinian attacks.

Tensions on the ground have been high since last year. Israeli military raids and killings in Palestinian cities and villages are taking place on a near-daily basis, in parallel with a rise in Palestinian armed attacks, as well as an increase in illegal settler attacks against Palestinians.

The Israeli raids have been particularly focused on the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus, where Palestinian armed resistance is growing.

Last week, Israeli forces killed a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, Jana Majdi Zakarneh, during a military raid on the city of Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank.

Zakarneh was playing with her cat on the roof of her home when she was shot dead, according to local media. The ministry said she was shot in the head.

Palestinian body held as bargaining chip

Meanwhile, Israel’s defence minister said on Wednesday that the remains of a Palestinian prisoner who died a day earlier from lung cancer would not be released for burial.

Benny Gantz’s office said the body of Nasser Abu Hmaid, one of the founders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, would be held as a bargaining chip for the return of captive Israelis and the remains of soldiers held by the Palestinian group Hamas in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Abu Hmaid, 50, was a former leader of the armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party. He had been serving multiple life sentences since 2002 after being convicted of being involved in the deaths of seven Israelis during the second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, against Israel’s occupation in the early 2000s.

Israel often withholds the remains of Palestinians killed while allegedly carrying out attacks. Israel says the policy serves as a deterrent for future attacks and leverage for prisoner exchanges, while rights groups say the action is a form of collective punishment inflicted on grieving families.

Hamas has been holding two Israeli captives and the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed during the 2014 Gaza war.

Palestinian officials had called for Abu Hmaid’s release as his health deteriorated in recent months, and on Tuesday blamed Israel for his death.

Gantz denied the allegations that Israel had any involvement in Abu Hmaid’s death.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies