Female Palestinian medic Razan Al-Najar works at the scene of clashes at Israel-Gaza border, in the southern Gaza Strip April 1, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
A preliminary investigation into the death of a Gazan paramedic has found that 21 year-old Razan Ashraf al-Najjar was not targeted by IDF fire, the military announced on Tuesday.
“A preliminary investigation of the incident indicates that during the incident a small number of bullets were fired, and no direct shooting was directed at her,” read a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
According to the IDF the investigation into her death continues and will be investigated by the General Staff's investigation mechanism and its findings will be forwarded to the Military Advocate General.
The Gaza Ministry of Health said 21-year-old Razan Ashraf al-Najjar, from the Khan Younis-area town of Khuzaa, was shot in the stomach while providing first aid to wounded demonstrators near the fence on Friday evening.
Shortly after the incident the IDF said Palestinian terrorists had attacked troops with gunfire and a grenade and the army had returned fire in accordance to the open-fire regulations.
The military later opened an investigation into her death as “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.”
The military said it is “constantly working to draw operational lessons to reduce the number of casualties” along the border fence, and has repeatedly warned citizens not to approach the fence and take part in the violence demonstrations. However, it added, 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.”
Najjar’s death was condemned by human rights groups and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov who tweeted that “Medical workers are #NotATarget!” and that “Israel needs to calibrate its use of force and Hamas need to prevent incidents at the fence.”
According to witness reports, she had approached the area of the fence with her hands in the air and that she was 100 meters from the security fence wearing clothing which clearly identified her as a medical worker when she was shot.
“The killing of a clearly identified medical staffer by security forces during a demonstration is particularly reprehensible,” said Jamie McGoldrick, the local UN humanitarian coordinator.
The Palestinian Medical Relief Society said Najjar was shot as she was attempting to provide first aid to an injured protester. Demanding “an immediate international response to Israeli humanitarian law violations in Gaza,” PMRC said that “shooting at medical personnel is a war crime under the Geneva conventions.”
Gazans have been protesting along the border with Israel since March 30th 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 into Israeli territory, destroying over 9,000 dunams of forest, nature reserves and agricultural fields.
The Gazan Health Ministry has said that 119 Palestinians have been killed by IDF fire and more than 13,000 have been wounded. Najjar is the second woman and second medic to have been killed by IDF fire.
On Tuesday Palestinians marked “Naksa Day” or “the setback” commemorating thet Arab defeat in the Six-Day War which led to Israel taking control of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights displacing some 300,000 Palestinians.
While several hundred Palestinians gathered in Gaza and hundreds others participated in a protest rally outside the UN office in Ramallah, there were no violent confrontations with IDF troops.
It is believed that the protests were limited on Tuesday in anticipation of Iranian-inspired Quds Day on Friday.
Palestinian officials have declared the coming Friday, which also marks the end of Ramadan, to be a “Day of Rage,” encouraging people to participate in protests across the Gaza Strip and West Bank and for those who are able to, to travel to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.