20-Year-Old Volunteer Paramedic Shot and Killed by Israeli Sniper Fire While Treating Wounded Palestinians

Razan al-Najjar, 20

She had become a fixture at the weekly protests along the fence dividing the Gaza Strip from Israel, a young woman in a white paramedic’s uniform rushing into harm’s way to help treat the wounded.

As a volunteer emergency medical worker, she said she wanted to prove that women had a role to play in the conservative Palestinian society of Gaza.

“Being a medic is not only a job for a man,” Razan al-Najjar, 20, said in an interview at a Gaza protest camp last month. “It’s for women, too.”

An hour before dusk on Friday, the 10th week of the Palestinian protest campaign, she ran forward to aid a demonstrator for the last time.

Israeli soldiers fired two or three bullets from across the fence, according to a witness, hitting Ms. Najjar in the upper body. She was pronounced dead soon after.

Ms. Najjar was the 119th Palestinian killed since the protests began in March, according to Gaza health officials. Hers was the only fatality registered on Friday.

On Saturday, a group of United Nations agencies issued a statement 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 Saturday that the case would be examined.

The military said it “has repeatedly warned civilians against approaching the fence and taking part in violent incidents and terrorist attacks and will continue to act professionally and determinedly to protect Israeli civilians and Israeli security infrastructure.”

The weeks of protests, called the Great Return March, have largely been orchestrated by Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza. They aim 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.

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SOURCE: New York Times, Iyad Abuheweila and Isabel Kershner