Volunteer medic killed trying to save lives in Gaza

The Israeli military said on Saturday it was investigating the apparent killing by its troops of a Palestinian nurse on Friday during protests along the Gaza border.
(Left) Relatives mourn the death of Ms Razan al-Najjar during her funeral last Saturday. According to a witness, Ms Razan (above) was shot last Friday as she rushed to help an elderly man hit by a tear-gas canister during a protest along the fence di
According to a witness, Ms Razan (above) was shot last Friday as she rushed to help an elderly man hit by a tear-gas canister during a protest along the fence dividing the Gaza Strip from Israel.PHOTO: REUTERS
(Left) Relatives mourn the death of Ms Razan al-Najjar during her funeral last Saturday. According to a witness, Ms Razan (above) was shot last Friday as she rushed to help an elderly man hit by a tear-gas canister during a protest along the fence di
Relatives mourn the death of Ms Razan al-Najjar during her funeral last Saturday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KHUZAA (Gaza Strip) • Ms Razan al-Najjar had become a fixture at the weekly protests along the fence dividing the Gaza Strip from Israel - a 20-year-old woman in a paramedic's uniform rushing into harm's way to help treat the wounded.

Last Friday, the volunteer medic with the Gaza health ministry ran to aid a demonstrator, but became the 119th Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers since the Palestinian protests began on March 30.

A group of United Nations agencies issued a statement last Saturday expressing outrage over the killing of "a clearly identified medical staffer", calling it "particularly reprehensible".

The Israeli military has provided no explanation for the shooting, but said last Saturday that the case would be examined.

It said it "has repeatedly warned civilians against approaching the fence and taking part in violent incidents and terrorist attacks".

Human rights groups, however, have accused Israel of using excessive force against the mostly unarmed protesters.

Last Friday, a UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israel for using "excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force" against Palestinians failed when it was vetoed by the United States.

The conflict had exploded into a day of cross-border fighting last Tuesday, when Islamic militants in Gaza fired scores of mortar shells and short-range rockets into southern Israel. Israeli jets bombed at least 65 military sites across Gaza.

The protests have largely been orchestrated by Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza. It aims to draw attention to the 11-year blockade by Israel and Egypt of the coastal territory and to press refugee claims to lands lost when Israel was established in 1948.

The Israeli army said yesterday that it pounded over a dozen militant targets in Gaza, targeting 10 terror sites in three military compounds belonging to Hamas.

The conflict had exploded into a day of cross-border fighting last Tuesday, when Islamic militants in Gaza fired scores of mortar shells and short-range rockets into southern Israel. Israeli jets bombed at least 65 military sites across Gaza.

The protests resumed last Friday, with thousands of Palestinians taking part in what the Israeli military described as violent riots along the security fence, burning tires and throwing stones.

One Israeli army vehicle was fired on, and Palestinians planted a grenade that exploded on the Israeli side of the fence, the military said.

This was the scene that Ms Razan dashed into. According to witness Ibrahim al-Najjar, a relative of Ms Razan's, she was rushing to help an elderly man who had been hit in the head by a tear-gas canister. "Razan was not shooting," Mr Ibrahim, 30, said. "Razan was saving souls and treating the wounded."

NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2018, with the headline 'Volunteer medic killed trying to save lives in Gaza'. Print Edition | Subscribe