Razan Najjar: Global outrage after Palestinian medic shot dead by Israeli forces near Gaza fence

United Nations officials condemned the killing of Najjar saying “healthcare workers must be allowed to perform their duties without fear of death or injury".

Razan Najjar: Outrage after Palestinian medic shot dead by Israeli troops near Gaza fence
Palestinian media Razan al-Najjar. Photo: The Palestinian Information Center.
By: Ayaz Farooqui
Updated: 03 Jun 2018 08:57 PM
NEW DELHI: "We have one goal: to save lives and evacuate people (and with this) to send a message to the world that without weapons, we can do anything," Razan al-Najjar had said in an interview to the NYT at a Gaza protest camp in May.

Razan Najjar treating wounded protesters on the Gaza border. Photo: The Palestinian Information Center

20-year-old Najjar was a volunteer paramedic who took part in treating wounded protesters during demonstrations in Gaza strip. “Being a medic is not only a job for a man. It’s for women, too,” she had said.

She was shot by Israeli forces as she tried to help evacuate wounded near the border fence separating Israel and the Gaza. “I am returning and not retreating,” Najar’s last Facebook post said, adding: Hit me with your bullets. I am not afraid.

Palestinian media Razan al-Najjar. Photo: The Palestinian Information Center.

Gaza health ministry said Najjar was fatally shot in the chest. She was the 119th Palestinian killed since the protests began in March.

Wearing a white uniform, "she raised her hands high in a clear way, but Israeli soldiers fired and she was hit in the chest," a witness, who requested anonymity, told Reuters.

She was about 100 meters away from the fence when was shot and was wearing (white) clothing clearly identifying her as a medic, human rights group Al Mezan stated.

"Razan at first didn’t realise she had been shot, but then she started crying out, 'My back, my back!' and then she fell on the ground," Rida Najjar, who is a medical volunteer and not related to Najjar, told Al Jazeera.

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Razan al-Najjar during her funeral. AFP Photo

The slain medic's body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag as the funeral procession started from the hospital and passed near her home.

“I want the world to hear my voice ... what’s my daughter’s fault?..She will leave a large emptiness at home,” Najjar's mother told AP.

United Nations officials condemned the killing of Najjar saying “healthcare workers must be allowed to perform their duties without fear of death or injury".

“The killing of a clearly identified medical staffer by security forces during a demonstration is particularly reprehensible,” AP quoted Jamie McGoldrick, the local UN humanitarian coordinator, as saying.

The Palestinian Medical Relief Society said Najjar was shot “as she was attempting to provide first aid to an injured protester,” with three others first aiders were injured by live bullets.

"Shooting at medical personnel is a war crime under the Geneva conventions, as is shooting at children, journalists and unarmed civilians," it said.

The PMRS demanded an immediate international response to Israeli humanitarian law violations in Gaza.

Palestinian paramedics mourn over the death of their colleague Razan al-Najjar in a hallway in a Khan Yunis hospital in Gaza. AFP Photo

Following Razan's death, the UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov said on Twitter: "Medical workers are #NotATarget!

"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," he wrote on Twitter.

The Israeli army in a statement released said it was looking into Razan's death. The army said that cases such as Najjar's "in which civilians are allegedly killed" by Israeli fire "are thoroughly examined" by an internal military committee.

Najjar was known for her bravery as she carried out her medical rescue work despite the obvious danger. She was working 12-hour shifts to aid those wounded.

She had been injured and fainted twice by tear gas inhalation. On April 12 she broke her wrist while running to attend to a wounded person and when urged to go to the hospital for treatment, she refused and kept working.

Razan Najjar, center, before being shot in the chest by Israeli troops east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip. Photo: AP

“It’s my duty and responsibility to be there and aid those injured,” she told Al Jazeera. “It breaks my heart that some of the young men who were injured or killed made their wills in front of me,” she said. “Some even gave me their accessories [as gifts] before they died."

The demonstrations and clashes peaked on May 14 when at least 61 Palestinians were killed in clashes as tens of thousands of Gazans protested the US transfer of its embassy in Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem the same day.

On Friday, a UN Security Council resolution, which called for the secretary-general to propose ways to ensure “international protection” for Palestinians civilians and demanded that Israel’s military cease any “use of excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force", was vetoed by the US.