On June 1, 2018, an Israeli military sniper shot and killed, Palestinian paramedic Razan al-Najjar, 20, during the weekly Great March of Return procession along the Gaza border. Razan wanted to show the world that “We Palestinians can achieve anything even without weapons.” The marksman who shot her undoubtedly had other ideas.
On Friday of this week, June 7, a memorial ceremony for the young Palestinian paramedic will be held by Israeli peace activists at the Yad Mordechai junction, near the Gaza frontier beginning at 9:30am. Among the speakers will be MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash), former Meretz MK Mossi Raz and leading member of Hadash Dr. Yeela Raanan.
Last year, immediately after the media reported her death, a spokesperson for the Israeli military slandered al-Najjar, saying she was a “terrorist” who had thrown a tear-gas canister back at the soldiers. The spokesperson’s office released a video showing an unidentified nurse kicking a canister aside so that she could breathe. Razan’s family viewed the video and said they do not believe the nurse in the recording was their daughter.
The military spokesperson’s office went a step further and released edited a video of an interview with Razan to make it appear that the young woman had said prior to her death that she is a “human shield” for protesters who attack soldiers. In the non-edited version of the interview, Razan clearly said, “I am a human shield for babies and the wounded.”
Initially, the Israeli military spokesperson claimed that no soldiers were shooting in the direction of where Razan was located when she was mortally wounded. However, an inquiry by Forensic Architecture, a research agency at the University of London, in cooperation with the New York Times, concluded that a bullet that was shot towards “an unarmed crowd” ricocheted and struck and killed Razan. The Israel’s military police declined to open an inquiry even after receiving these findings.
The policy of the Israeli army is to permit soldiers to shoot protesters even if they pose no danger. Until this policy is changed, innocent protesters will continue to be be wounded, maimed and killed. Israeli human rights organizations have appealed to the High Court of Justice to change this policy, but the plea was rejected by the court.
Since Razan’s death, other paramedics, journalists and children have been killed and wounded by Israeli sharpshooters. Among them was 12 year old Majdi Ramzi Kamal al-Satri who was shot in the head on July 27, 2018 east of Rafah city, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, during the weekly Great March of Return procession. Majdi was from the Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah.
“We will come together to demand justice for her and for all others who have been killed and wounded. They were supposed to be protected by international law, but they weren’t. One day Justice will come,” said the organizers of the Great March of Return border protests.