(photo credit: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT)
“People have taken my face and made it a symbol of hate,” the IDF veteran falsely accused of being the sniper who fatally shot Gazan nurse Razan al-Najjar told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Thousands attend Palestinian nurse's funeral as Israeli military says it will probe her killing, June 2, 2018 (Reuters)
A Boston native, 24 year-old Rebecca Rum (not her full name for security purposes) was falsely accused over the weekend of being the sniper who fatally shot 21-year-old Razan Ashraf al-Najjar, a Gazan nurse who was shot in the stomach while providing first aid to wounded demonstrators near the fence outside Khan Younis on Friday evening.
The IDF said it was investigating her death.
Rebecca told the Post
that she was “really sorry” about al-Najjar’s death but that people should "check their facts" before spreading lies.
“I am really sorry that they lost their daughter. The loss of a life is always a tragedy,” she said. But that is separate from the fact that they need to check their facts as spreading lies will not get anyone anywhere. I really try to get to know and understand the other side. People took my face and made it a symbol of hate and that is totally against what I stand for.”
The accusation against her originated from the Facebook page of Suhair Nafal from Chicago who posted a photograph of Rebecca smiling in full uniform and holding an M-16 four years ago when she was in a combat intelligence unit serving in southern Israel close to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
While Rebecca is not sure how Nafal found the picture, it was likely taken from a post on the IDF’s official Facebook page from May 2014. While the post has since been taken down, it identified her as an “IDF soldier specializing in education who later decided she was meant for the field. Today she’s a trained fighter in IDF Field Intelligence, defending the home she knows and loves.”
But Rebecca was still confused to see them using the picture, telling the Post “I don’t know how they unearthed this picture it was so old.”
The post which was later shared on the “Freedom for Gaza” Facebook page which has over 100,000 followers, was later edited to say “it was only a comparison” which “clearly did not say that Rebecca murdered Razan.”
“Does that make Rebecca innocent? Absolutely not! She is complicit and is still a terrorist who made the choice to leave the US and go to a land to which she has zero ties specifically to murder the indigenous people of that land...but again it was not her who killed Razan,” the edited post read.
While Nafal has since changed the picture of Rebecca for a different female IDF soldier and removed the descriptions of Rebecca, the original post was shared across social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and translated into dozens of languages.
“They aren’t interested in the truth,” Rebecca said, “it feels like they just want to spread lies.”
Rebecca, who keeps Shabbat, only heard about al-Najjar’s death when she opened her phone Saturday evening to messages from friends and thousands of messages and Facebook requests from strangers.
“My friends told me that someone had opened a Facebook account impersonating me,” she said. “I felt that someone had really intruded on my privacy and my world. All my friends and family got their own slew of hate messages. I am still getting messages as we speak!”
While she is no longer afraid for her safety despite still receiving hateful messages from strangers, she has contacted the police and has received dozens of messages of support from people offering free legal services or counselling.
According to her the messages, which came from all over the world,were either in English, Arabic or “google translated” Hebrew. Many of them were concerning the fact that she had moved to Israel, “and that I wasn’t born here and that I didn’t belong here. That was really upsetting because Israel is my home and I believe in this country,” she said.
“I love Israel and I stand by my service in the army. At the same time when I can do something good for someone I will, regardless of politics.”
Recently working for a gap year program in Israel, Rebecca told the Post that she will start volunteering with Syrian refugees in Greece next week.
“I am leaving to volunteer with them, teaching them English before they move to Europe or Canada. To me it was an obvious choice, devoid of political considerations because it is a clear situation in which I have something to give of value to someone else,” she told the the Post.
“In the end, that’s what matters. Just doing good acts for each other, across religious, political or global borders.”
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