An investigation by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has found that an Israeli sniper deliberately targeted Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar while she was out on the field treating Palestinian protesters on June 1. Al-Najjar, 21, was killed as she and her colleagues treated Palestinians taking part in Great March of Return protests in Gaza, near the boundary fence with Israel, east of Khan Younis.
According to B’Tselem, al-Najjar “was fatally shot by a member of the security forces who was aiming directly at her as she was standing about 25 meters away from the fence, despite the fact that she posed no danger to him or anyone else and was wearing a medical uniform.”
B’Tselem interviewed two other paramedics who were serving alongside Razan. Here is Rami Abu Jazar’s account who was also hit above the knee by Israeli sniper fire.
“We were all wearing medical vests with first-aid crew symbols on them. We got to two young men, and when we started evacuating them, the soldiers started firing a heavy barrage of teargas canisters at us. I think they were firing from one of the military jeeps. Rozan and Rasha started choking. I asked Mahmoud to care for Rozan and I took care of Rasha. Then, the four of us moved away from the fence. The young men and other paramedics who stayed behind managed to get out the two guys who’d been hurt by the gas.
After we had moved away, we started feeling better and decided to go closer to the protesters. We stood about 10 meters away from them, which was about 25 meters away from the fence. There were no protesters near us. At around a quarter to six, we saw two soldiers get out of a military jeep, kneel and aim their guns at us, taking up a sniper stance. Rozan was standing to my right and Rasha was behind me. We were talking. Suddenly, they fired two live bullets at us. I looked at Rozan and saw her point to her back and then fall down. A second later, I fell too, because I had been hit above the left knee.”
According to B'Tselem, the spokesperson for the Israeli forces tried to clear the army of any responsibility for al-Najjar's death by initially saying that soldiers didn't fire at the spot where she was standing.
On June 5, the Israeli forces' spokesperson said that according to their initial investigation, al-Najjar was not intentionally targeted, suggesting that she was likely killed by a ricochet or a misdirected shot, according to the Times of Israel.
But in its report, B’Tselem concludes, “The killing of a-Najar is a direct result of the open-fire policy Israel has been implementing since the protests began. The lethal results of this policy are well known: Since the protests began on 30 March 2018, 127 Palestinian protesters have been killed – including at least 18 minors – the vast majority of whom posed no danger to the Israeli security forces stationed on the other side of the fence.”
B'Tselem's findings coincide with al-Najjar's personal account of being targeted by the Israeli army before she was killed.
In April, al-Najjar told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces had shot directly at her more than once, warning her to stop tending to the wounded.
"Soldiers tried to kill me so many times," al-Najjar said. "I received some information that I'm targeted by the Israeli army and that I have to stay away from the field because of my activities [tending to the injured] but I ignore all of that."
A bullet had narrowly missed her head and another time, a bullet flew past her leg while she was tending to demonstrators on the field. Al-Najjar recounted that during a Friday protest in April, as she ran to help an injured demonstrator, an Israeli soldier threatened her that if she made a single move forward, she would end up dead. But she ignored him and, without hesitation, ran to help the demonstrator.
"I'm a sacrifice for my nation," Razan said regarding her presence at the demonstrations. "I'm always going be there for my country and home."