IDF investigating shooting death of Palestinian nurse in Gaza protests

21 year-old Razan al-Najar was shot in the chest on Friday.

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June 2, 2018 17:46
3 minute read.
Female Palestinian medic Razan Al-Najar

Female Palestinian medic Razan Al-Najar reacts to tear gas as she works at the scene of clashes at Israel-Gaza border, in the southern Gaza Strip, April 1, 2018. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

 
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The Israeli army is probing the shooting death of Gazan nurse Razan al-Najar during violent protests along the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip Friday.

The IDF said Palestinian militants had attacked troops with gunfire and a grenade, and had returned fire in accordance with the open-fire regulations.

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"Cases in which a civilian is alleged to have been killed by IDF fire are thoroughly investigated by the relevant command echelons and examined by the General Staff's debriefing mechanism, and this will be done with regard to the current allegations," read a statement provided to The Jerusalem Post.

The military stated that while it is "constantly working to draw operational lessons to reduce the number of casualties" along the border fence, and that it has repeatedly warned citizens not to approach the fence and take part in the violence demonstrations, Hamas "unfortunately methodically places young children and women on the front lines of violent disturbances to act as human shields for the realization of Hamas's goals."

The Gaza Ministry of Health stated that 21-year-old Razan Ashraf al-Najjar, from the town of Khuzaa near Khan Yunis, was shot in the stomach while providing first aid to wounded demonstrators near the fence on Friday evening.

“Reports indicate that Razan was assisting injured demonstrators and wearing her first responder clothing, clearly distinguishing her as a healthcare worker even from a distance,” said James Heenan, Head of Office, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

“Reports suggest that she was shot about 100 metres from the fence. Under international human rights law, which applies in this context along with international humanitarian law, lethal force may only be used as a last resort and when there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury. It is very difficult to see how Razan posed such a threat to heavily-armed, well-protected Israeli forces in defensive positions on the other side of the fence,” Heenan added.

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According to the Palestinian official news agency Wafa, al-Najar was 100 meters away from the security fence when "all of a sudden she was targeted by an Israeli sniper's gunfire despite wearing a clearly visible white coat."

The Gazan Health Ministry has stated that 119 Palestinians have been killed by IDF fire and more than 13,000 have been wounded during the violent protests that began on March 30. Al-Najjar is the second woman and second medic to have been killed by IDF fire.

Gazan Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra stated that over 100 protesters were injured on Friday, the majority from tear-gas and 40 by live ammunition.

Gazans have been protesting along the border with Israel for the past seven weeks as part of what organizers have called the "Great March of Return." Demonstrators have been throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and rocks toward Israeli troops, and flying incendiary kites toward Israeli territory with the aim of arson.

Fires broke out in several spots along the Gaza border area over the weekend, with four air tankers and 12 firefighting teams dealing with the blazes in the Karmia Nature Reserve, Ynet news reported.

On Saturday, the IDF stated that several Palestinians infiltrated into Israel territory from the southern part of the Gaza Strip and tried to sabotage security infrastructure. The men fled back to Gaza after IDF troops opened fire.

"The Hamas terror organization is trying again and again to turn the border fence area into an area of violence and fighting both underground and above ground. The IDF will not allow this and will continue to act to ensure the safety of the residents of the State of Israel," read a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

Also on Saturday, a 37 year-old Palestinian was killed in the West Bank after an attempted vehicular ramming attack against IDF troops near Hebron.

The man was identified as local construction worker Rami Wahid Sabarneh from the town of Beit Ummar.

Ma'an News quoted local activist Aaref Jaber as stating that he "was driving a Bobcat excavator while another worker walked next to him, Israeli soldiers asked them to stop when he was at least 10 meters away from them, the walking worker stopped, but Sabarneh apparently did not hear the soldiers and continued his way so they opened fire at him until he was killed."

The IDF said soldiers acted to stop Sabarneh according to the army's rules of engagement, during which he turned around and attempted to run over civilians at the scene. Another soldier, standing on the roof of a nearby building, identified the threat and shot dead the suspect.

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