Razan Najjar, a 21-year-old volunteer paramedic, was shot on Friday, 1 June 2018 as she was helping evacuate and treat wounded protestors near the Gaza border with Israel. Najjar had been working for 10 weeks on treating those injured while partaking in the Great March of Return. Gaza health ministry officials said that at least 100 Palestinians, including four medics, were wounded by Israeli fire on Friday alone.
Najjar had started working as a paramedic after earning a diploma in general nursing choosing to volunteer with several NGOs in order to gain experience that she would later use to provide the wounded with critical health care. Last month, Najjar had expressed in a New York Times interview that her one goal was to “save lives and evacuate people.”
On Friday, al-Najjar’s friend and colleague were present at the site when the nurse was shot. According to his account to Middle East Eye, “Israeli forces intensively fired tear gas and live ammunition” as they were trying to evacuate wounded protestors. He then added, “Razan was pointing to her back, and then she fell on the ground, blood was spreading across her uniform.” Other witnesses claim that Najjar and other paramedics were walking toward the fence with their arms raised on their way to evacuate injured protesters when she was shot in the chest.
The Israeli military said on Saturday in a written statement that it was investigating the apparent killing by its troops of a Palestinian nurse on Friday during protests along the Gaza border. Similarly, the UN envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, tweeted on Saturday, “Medical workers are #NotATarget!” and that “Israel needs to calibrate its use of force and Hamas need to prevent incidents at the fence.” In response to Najjar’s death, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator, Jamie McGoldrick, asserted, “the killing of a clearly-identified medical staffer by security forces during a demonstration is particularly reprehensible.” This incident coincides with the recent statistics compiled by the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the Union of Health Work Committees, which put the number of health workers injured since 30 March at 245. Defenders for Medical Impartiality has found that at least 79 health personnel have been injured and 20 ambulances were damaged since the beginning of the mass protests along the Gaza-Israel border. Further, Israeli forces fired tear gas at health units that were set up to provide the injured with lifesaving care.
Defenders for Medical Impartiality welcomes the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution to probe the deadly shootings of protesters by Israeli forces and calls on Israel to fully cooperate with the commission of inquiry.