'Legend of Khan Younis': Gaza footballer Mohammed Barakat killed in Israel airstrike

'Legend of Khan Younis': Gaza footballer Mohammed Barakat killed in Israel airstrike
Palestinian football star Mohammed Barakat was killed in an Israeli bombing of his family home in Khan Younis.
3 min read
12 March, 2024
Mohamad Mechleb Matar of Lebanon is tackled by Mohammed Barakat of Palestine (R) during the Beach Soccer Men's Bronze Medal Match between Palestine and Lebanon on Day 5 of the 3rd Asian Beach Games Haiyang 2012 [Getty]

Palestinian footballer Mohammed Barakat was killed on Monday when an Israeli airstrike hit his home in Gaza's southern city of Khan Younis

His family home was targeted by a series of Israeli bombs that were dropped on the first day of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan

Known as "the legend of Khan Younis", Barakat famously captained Khan Younis Youth Club, while having also played for the Palestinian national team and the Ahly Gaza football club.  

Palestinian footballer Khalid Abu-Habel told Al Jazeera that Barakat’s killing was a "huge loss for Palestinian football". 

"I played against him," the Khadamat al-Maghazi defender said.

"He was quick and clever. A top, top goal scorer. Off the pitch, he was kind and friendly. A beloved friend of all."

Barakat was one of Gaza’s top scorers and the first player in the territory to achieve 100 goals for a single team, scoring 114 throughout his career. 

The 39-year-old was the latest among athletes and administrators killed during Israel’s offensive in Gaza and the occupied West Bank


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Last month, the Palestinian Football Association announced the deaths of local footballers Osama Abu Nahar, Ahmed Tariq Faraj, and Nabil Atta Amer, after Israeli forces stormed Tulkarm Youth Center in the West Bank’s Tulkarm camp. 

The PFA added that football player Haitham Nafi was also detained following the deadly raid. 

Those also confirmed to have been killed include Al-Breij basketball player Bassim al-Nabahin, Al-Ahli Beit Hanoon footballer Rashid Dabbour and football player Ahmad Awad, who played Palestine’s national football team for dwarfism. 

Palestinian football titan Hani Al-Masdar, who also worked as a manager of the Olympic team, was killed in January after being hit by shrapnel from a missile that targeted his central Gaza home.   

The number of sportspeople killed has since risen to 157 amid Israel's war on Gaza and continued incursions across the occupied West Bank since 7 October, according to the association. 

Ninety of those killed were reported to be football players, including 23 children and 67 youths. 

In addition, the PFA said that 22 sports facilities have been destroyed in the occupied territories, as several athletes have also been arrested.  

At least 427 Palestinians in total have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces or settlers since the start of the war, according to the Palestinian health ministry. 

In Gaza, around 31,184 people have been killed by Israeli forces.

The latest toll on Tuesday includes at least 72 deaths over the past 24 hours, a statement by Gaza’s health ministry said, adding that 72,889 people have been wounded in Gaza since the war began in October.