Razan al-Najjar, 21, an emergency medical aid worker was shot and killed Friday by Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border fence. Witnesses said she was wearing the white uniform of a medic and was tending to a wounded protester when fired on, according to the New York Times.
US News reported that a Khan Younis hospital representative said she had a “gunshot wound in the chest with an exit wound in the back.”
“An hour before dusk on Friday, the 10th week of the Palestinian protest campaign, she ran forward to aid a demonstrator for the last time,” the Times wrote.
Reports confirm at least 100 Palestinians were injured during Friday’s protests, including 40 people with live ammunition. There was only one reported death: Razan al-Najjar.
More than 120 Gazan civilians have been killed in the past two months since the ‘Great Return March’ protests have begun. On May 14, more than 60 Palestinians died during confrontations with Israeli soldiers as thousands of Gazans demonstrated against the U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem.
The killing of the young nurse is said to be under investigation by Israeli authorities though a statement said soldiers were responding appropriately to protests and violence at the border fence. But UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay E. Mladenov said in an emphatic tweet, “medical workers are not a target!”
In a TRT World news video, a fellow field medic with her said she was “targeted and shot in the chest.” It was reported that on Friday, two other medics were allegedly shot or suffered shrapnel injuries and medical workers and witnesses said, “she didn’t realize she was shot but felt it when it came out of her back,” the report said she “pointed to her back and then she fell …”
Meanwhile, on Saturday night, the Jerusalem Post was reporting that airstrikes and rocket fire from both sides of the border was occurring with reporter Anna Ahronheim tweeting “The Popular Resistance Committees has reportedly carried out tonight’s attacks in retaliation for the death of 21-year-old paramedic Razan al-Najar killed Friday during (the) Great Return March in southern Gaza.”
Also late Saturday, Palestinians were carrying out a funeral for the young volunteer medic.
In early April, she told reporters, “Today I was almost shot, but thanks to God‘s mercy I was safe.”
A statement from the World Health Organization described the incident saying as a “first responder, while carrying out her humanitarian duties with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS). Razan was hit by live ammunition fired by Israeli forces while trying, with other first responders, to reach those injured during the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations close to Israel’s perimeter fence around 18:30. She was taken immediately to a trauma stabilization point, and then to the European Gaza Hospital, where she died just after 19:00. Three others in her team were also injured.”
Here’s what you need to know about Razan al-Najjar:
1. Just 21 Years Old, Razan al-Najjar Spent 13 Hours a Day at The Gaza Border Helping Treat Injured Civilians
Razan al-Najjar worked for countless hours as a volunteer paramedic: “My task is to provide first aid to the injured until they reach a hospital,” she said via a translator. al-Najjar said she helped treat 70 wounded in one day mostly suffering from wounds from rubber bullets and worked up to 13 hours a day, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“We have one goal here, to save lives and evacuate people,” she told the Times. She showed the tents where volunteer medics work daily. “We do this for the love of the country. It’s humanitarian work.”
Photo after photo, posting after posting show the young Palestinian woman helping care for the wounded. She herself would be treated after being shot in a “makeshift medical tent by several medics before she died.” (Graphic video at the end of this post depict that effort.)
In an interview with TRT World on April 1, Razan al-Najjar said she wanted to “continue helping others till the last day.”
She said her first day as a paramedic was the “hardest.” “I suffocated from teargas three times …the entire medical team was targeted, a colleague was shot on the back and my friend, a nurse, was shot on the hand and another colleague was shot near the ear. We gave them first aid in the field and then we continued our work and we sent them to the hospitals and we carried out our work.”
2. ‘Being a Medic is Not Only a Job For a Man, It’s For Women, Too’
“We have one goal — to save lives and evacuate people. And to send a message to the world: Without weapons, we can do anything,” al-Najjar said.
In May, al-Najjar told the Times it was important to show that women are integral part of the “conservative Palestinian society of Gaza.” She said the work she does is important especially because “women in our society are judged. But society has to accept us. If they don;t want to accept us by choice, they will be forced to accept us,” she said defiantly. “Because we have more strength than any man. The strength that I showed as a first responder on the first day of the protests, I dare you to find it in anyone else.”
“Being a medic is not only a job for a man, it’s for women, too …we have a big role here.” al-Najjar said she and other volunteers “don’t do it for money …we don’t want to get paid …people ask my dad what I’m doing here without getting a salary. He tells them, ‘I’m proud of my daughter. She provides care to the children of our country.”
Jewish Voice for Peace, which “seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East,” praised her work and mourned her loss in a Facebook post.
3.The Israel Defence Forces Says It’s Investigating Her Killing, But Claims Hamas ‘Deliberately & Methodically Places Civilians in Danger’
According to Yahoo News, the Israeli military said “thousands of rioters” were located in a number of separate locations along the border and were, “burning tires adjacent to the security fence and attempting to damage security infrastructure.”
Israeli officials said gunfire was aimed at a military vehicle and “a Palestinian had crossed into Israel, planted a grenade and returned to Gaza, it said, stressing soldiers were acting ‘in accordance with the rules of engagement,’” the report said.
“The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) constantly works to draw operational lessons and reduce the number of casualties in the area of the Gaza Strip security fence. Unfortunately, the Hamas terror organization deliberately and methodically places civilians in danger,” a statement read.
Reuters reported the IDF said it would investigate the killing of the young emergency medical aid worker.
“Cases in which a civilian is alleged to have been killed by IDF fire are thoroughly investigated by the relevant command echelons and examined by the General Staff’s debriefing mechanism, and this will be done with regard to the current allegations,” the IDF told The Jerusalem Post.
Hadel Najja, Razan’s cousin is quoted as saying, “As medical workers we have the right to be protected by international law and when we are on the field we wear uniforms and there are signs showing we are medical workers we are not joining the confrontation we are helping people.”
4. Fellow Medics, Her Family, Friends & Tens of Thousands in Gaza & Beyond Reacted With Shock, Sadness & Anger
“Medical workers are #NotATarget! My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of #Razan_AlNajjar! #Palestinians in #Gaza have had enough suffering. #Israel needs to calibrate its use of force and Hamas need to prevent incidents at the fence. Escalation only costs more lives.”
“Volunteer medics weep tears for the loss of their colleague Razan al-Najjar, murdered today in the Gaza Strip by Israeli Snipers. Razan used to provide nursing services for wounded demonstrators before being murdered east of Khan Younis city,” in this video posted to Twitter.
“I can’t believe she’s been murdered. I have been very proud of how she had grown to be a strong and kind woman. I remember her as a kid playing around. Whenever she came to visit my grandma would call me to go to play with her… my heart is in pieces,” said her cousin Dalia al-Najjar.
“Meet my cousin Razan who was shot dead in the chest by an Israeli sniper. She was a volunteer nurse.”
And for Izzat Shatat, a fellow emergency medical worker, her death by sniper is particularly agonizing. The volunteer ambulance driver told the Associated Press that they were going to reveal their engagement following Ramadan.
In an interview with TRT World, Razan’s mother was quoted as saying, “I want all the world to see. What was my daughter guilty of? What was her crime for this to happen to her?”
5.Razan’s Killing Comes as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley Vetoes UN Security Resolution to Protect Palestinian Civilians. The World Health Organization Says International Law Protects Health Workers & The UN is ‘Deeply Concerned.’
Arab-backed and introduced by Kuwait, the resolution vetoed by Haley, who said it was “grossly one sided,” was drafted in response to the increasing violence, protest and killings of Palestinians by Israeli security forces.
The Hill reported Haley charged the resolution ignored what she said was Hamas’ provocation and incitement that has led to protests.
A paramedic who was with Razan al-Najjar said she was running to help a protestor near the Gaza fence that had been wounded: “I told her it is dangerous but she said she’s not afraid to die & wants to help the wounded.”
U.N. agencies say they are “deeply concerned over killing” of Razan al-Najjar, a health volunteer in Gaza.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for the protection of health workers and patients at all times. Dr. Gerald Rockenschaub, Head of the WHO office in the oPt, stated: “Today, our thoughts are with the family of Razan, and with our colleagues from the PMRS. Such attacks on health care must not happen and we need to enhance our efforts to ensure the protection of our frontline health workers. There are clear obligations to safeguard healthcare under international law and these must be respected.”
This is video that purports to be medical workers, doctors and aides, trying to save Razan al-Najjar’s life. They were unsuccessful. She suffered gunshot wound to the chest.