Gaza medic killed by Israel was shot in the back

| Ali Abunimah pour The Electronic Intifada |Actualités

Israeli occupation forces shot dead a volunteer medic and injured dozens of people as they continued their indiscriminate attacks on Palestinians taking part in Great March of Return protests in Gaza for the 10th consecutive Friday.

Razan Ashraf Abdul Qadir al-Najjar, 21, was helping treat and evacuate wounded protesters east of Khan Younis when she was fatally shot in the back on Friday evening.

She was about 100 meters away from the boundary fence with Israel at the moment she was shot and was wearing clothing clearly identifying her as a medic, the human rights group Al Mezan stated, citing eyewitnesses.

Al-Najjar had become known for her bravery and insistence on carrying out her medical rescue work despite the obvious danger.

She had previously been injured by tear gas inhalation, and on 13 April broke her wrist while running to attend to a wounded person. But al-Najjar refused to go to the hospital that day and continued working in the field.

“It’s my duty and responsibility to be there and aid those injured,” she told Al Jazeera.

She also bore witness to the final moments of some of those fatally wounded before her.

“It breaks my heart that some of the young men who were injured or killed made their wills in front of me,” she told Al Jazeera. “Some even gave me their accessories [as gifts] before they died.”

Al-Najjar spoke about her work in an earlier TV interview that was shared widely on social media following the news of her death (watch the video here).

Many Twitter users, especially from Gaza, paid tribute to al-Najjar (Dalia Alnajjar, Belal Aldabbour, Great Return March, Ÿousef).

Palestinian media shared images of al-Najjar’s family and colleagues mourning her death :

Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry, paid tribute to al-Najjar as a dedicated humanitarian volunteer who did not leave her post until she “gave herself as a martyr.”

Al-Najjar is the second rescue worker to be killed by Israeli forces since the Great March of Return protests began on 30 March.

Two weeks ago, Israeli snipers fatally shot paramedic Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein.

About an hour before he was shot, Abu Hassanein had helped rescue one of his colleagues, the Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani who had been injured by an Israeli bullet.

Loubani later told The Electronic Intifada Podcast how he was shot in the leg when everything was quiet around him : “No burning tires, no smoke, no tear gas, nobody messing around in front of the buffer zone. Just a clearly marked medical team well away from everybody else.”

On Saturday, thousands marched in al-Najjar’s funeral, as colleagues carried her body, draped with the Palestinian flag and the blood-drenched medical vest she was wearing when she was shot.

Since the start of the protests, Israeli forces have injured almost 50 medical workers in Gaza.

This Friday, as they have every week, Israeli forces fired live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas at Palestinians along Gaza’s eastern boundary, injuring almost 100 people, more than 30 of them with live bullets, according to Al Mezan.

“Protesters presented no danger or threat to the safety of the soldiers, which confirms that the violations committed by these forces are grave and systematic and amount to war crimes,” the human rights group stated.

Since the end of March, Israeli forces have killed 129 people in Gaza including 15 children, 98 of them during protests, according to Al Mezan.

War surgeons

As Israel continued to add to the staggering toll on Friday, the health system in Gaza was already beyond coping with the accumulation of people injured by the apparent use of fragmenting ammunition that causes horrifying injuries requiring intensive and complex treatment and often leaving victims with permanent disabilities.

More than 13,000 people have been injured since the start of the protests, including those who suffered due to tear gas inhalation. Of the more than 7,000 people who suffered injuries other than by tear gas, more than half were shot with live ammunition.

On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced it was dispatching two teams of war surgeons and medical supplies to Gaza to shore up a healthcare system it said was on the “brink of collapse.”

The ICRC said the priority for its six-month mission will be to treat gunshot wound victims, among them about 1,350 patients who will need three to five operations each.

“Such a caseload would overwhelm any health system,” the ICRC stated. “In Gaza, the situation is worsened by chronic shortages of drugs, equipment and electricity.”

“Toxic slum”

The sustained protests in Gaza are to call for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands now in Israel, and to demand an end to Israel’s more than decade-long siege of the territory.

Gaza’s two million residents are being “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death,” United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein told a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Friday.

Zeid also told the council that there is “little evidence” that Israel is doing anything to minimize casualties.

He confirmed that protesters’ “actions alone do not appear to constitute the imminent threat to life or deadly injury which could justify the use of lethal force.”

Zeid spoke to the council as it was considering a draft resolution on sending an international war crimes probe to Gaza.

Last week, the Human Rights Council voted by 29-2 to establish an independent inquiry into the violence in Gaza.

Only the United States and Australia voted against an inquiry, but several European Union governments including the UK and Germany were among the 14 that abstained.

Medical Aid for Palestinians, a charity that has been providing emergency assistance amid the growing calamity, and a dozen other organizations, have criticized the British government’s refusal to support an inquiry “to assess violations of international law in the context of large-scale civilian protests in Gaza.”

But attempts to hold Israel accountable continue amid the intransigent opposition of Israel’s backers.

On Friday evening, the UN Security Council voted on a draft resolution put forward by Kuwait, deploring “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by the Israeli forces” and calling for “measures to guarantee the safety and protection” of Palestinian civilians.

It also called for an end to the blockade of Gaza and deplored “the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilian areas.”

Ten countries, including permanent members Russia and France, voted in favor. Four, including Britain, abstained.

Despite having enough votes to pass, the resolution was killed by US ambassador Nikki Haley, who – as she had promised to do – cast her country’s veto.

Haley then put forward her own draft resolution absolving Israel of any responsibility for the violence in Gaza and laying all blame for the situation on Hamas.

The United States was the only country to vote in favor.

This article has been updated since first publication.

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