On Saturday in Palestine, thousands attended the funeral of Razan al-Najjar, a 21-year-old volunteer medic who was killed by Israeli soldiers during protests at the Gaza border on Friday.
Najjar was shot in the neck despite the fact that she was clearly wearing a white medical staff uniform, according to Palestinian Health Minister Dr. Jawad Awaad.
Israeli-Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi called Najjar’s murder a “heinous war crime,” a sentiment echoed by Dr. Awaad. Tibi directly blamed the United States for her death, since Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, vetoed the Security Council resolution for “international protection” for Palestinians on Friday.
Haley called the resolution “grossly one-sided” and said it “places all blame on Israel.”
Forty people were reported wounded during Friday’s protests; in total, the Palestinian health Ministry in Gaza reports that 119 people have died since the confrontations along the border began on May 14 when the U.S. moved its embassy, according to Haaretz.
Najjar regularly attended the weekly protests at the Gaza border fence, and last month, she spoke to the New York Times about being a female medic in such dangerous conditions and in the conservative Palestinian culture in Gaza.
“Being a medic is not only a job for a man It’s for women, too,” she told the Times.
Najjar began working at the protest camps in March, at the start of weeks of protests called the Great Return March, in which tens of thousands of Palestinians are marching to demand the right to return to the family homes they lost in 1948.
“In our society, women are often judged,” she said. “But society has to accept us. If they don’t want to accept us by choice, they will be forced to accept us because we have more strength than any man.
“The strength that I showed the first day of the protests, I dare you to find it in anyone else.”
While there are differing accounts about what exactly Najjar was doing when she was killed, it’s clear she was rushing to provide medical care to injured protesters. A relative of hers, Ibrahim al-Najjar, told The Times that she was rushing to help an elderly man who had been hit in the head by a tear-gas canister, while others said that she was walking with her hands up alongside other paramedics attempting to evacuate injured protesters along the fence. “Razan was not shooting,” Ibrahim said. “Razan was saving souls and treating the wounded.”