‘We Love Hanan and Hate War’ – Gaza’s Promising Female Footballer Killed with Family

Gaza’s promising female footballer Hanan Wael Al-Hawajri was killed by Israel in Gaza. (Photo: supplied)

By Abdallah Aljamal – Gaza

Hanan Wael Al-Hawajri, a young football player, was killed along with her family in one of the Israeli bombardments targeting the Nuseirat refugee camp.

The main goal of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza is the destruction of all aspects of life in the besieged Strip. 

One of the most targeted sectors has been sports. At least 265 Palestinian athletes have been killed in Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza since October 7, the Palestinian Football Association said on Thursday.

This number, however, does not include some very young athletes who were engaged in various sports activities, although not in an official capacity. 

Moreover, according to Palestinian figures, more than 55 sports facilities were destroyed in Israeli attacks.

A sports facility is not just a mere infrastructure, but a place where futures are molded, human relationships are developed and young people are empowered. 

This was the case of the Ahli Club in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, in central Gaza, which about a year before the war, managed to establish a girls’ football team.

“This team was the first for girls in the central governorate and the third in the Gaza Strip,”Adel al-Ghossein, the coach of the Ahli Nuseirat girls’ team, told The Palestine Chronicle. 

“Twenty girls, aged between 10 and 14, joined the team, and we provided them with special sports uniforms. We began the training phase and prepared the girls for competition with other teams in Gaza,” he continued.

Then, tragedy struck, not only Gaza, but Al-Ahli as well.

Hanan Wael Al-Hawajri, a young football player, was killed along with her family in one of the Israeli bombardments targeting the Nuseirat refugee camp.

“When the war started, the  girls were dispersed across the governorates of Gaza. Many of them evacuated with their families to Khan Younis and then to Rafah,” al-Ghossein told us. 

“We tried to communicate with their relatives and check on them, but it was not easy. However, we were all shocked when we learned devastating news which fill our hearts with sadness”.

Always Smiling

“The club management informed us that Hanan’s family home had been bombed. We were absolutely devastated. Hanan was a distinguished player, committed to training. But the occupation completely shattered her dream,” al-Ghossein said.

Leilas Al-Hawajri is Hanan’s cousin. She told The Palestine Chronicle that Hanan was the one who encouraged her to join the girls’ football team. 

“I didn’t know much about football, but Hanan made me join the team,” Leilas told us.

“We used to go to training together twice a week. She loved playing football. But the occupation killed her, and I don’t know how we will continue playing without her,” she said.

Aya Al-Haj was another close friend of Hanan who played in the Ahli Club girls’ team.

“She loved fun and playing, and she always smiled,” Aya told us. 

“I remember when we first met at the club; she was very happy and proud to have joined a girls’ football team,” she continued.

“She was martyred in this war, but we will continue her path. We will work to dedicate the first championship we win after the war to her because she deserves it.”

Alaa Nawfal is inconsolable due to Hanan’s loss.

“My friend Hanan is gone, and I don’t know how we will continue playing without her. She was one of the first to join the team and she loved football very much,” she told us. 

“She dreamed of winning a championship for the club. The occupation killed her. We love Hanan and hate the war. We want the war to stop and go back to playing football.”

(The Palestine Chronicle) 

Abdallah Aljamal is a Gaza-based journalist. He is a correspondent for The Palestine Chronicle in the Gaza Strip. His email is abdallahaljamal1987@gmail.com

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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