By Hilal Ahmad Khan
The 21-year-old paramedic was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers while trying to aid wounded protesters near the Gaza-Israel separation fence. Many Israelis either refuse to believe she was actually killed or that her killing was somehow justified.
For the past two days, I’ve been thinking about Razan al-Najjar and to be honest this haunting episode and inhumane act has made me sleepless. According to witnesses, she was wearing her white paramedic’s uniform, attempting to treat protesters near the fence when she was shot. Immediately following Razan’s death, her picture appeared everywhere on my Facebook newsfeed.
Razan in her white uniform was so different from the image of the terrorist that the Israeli collective imagination assigned the protesters in Gaza ; I hoped that there would be an opening for compassion, for second thoughts, for a discourse free from blind hatred.
There were few poor responses on the social media from hate mongers like,what was she doing there in the first place? “Why didn’t she wait for the wounded in the hospital?” “You really think our soldiers kill protesters on purpose?” “That’s how it is in war.” “Hamas makes them to go to these protests. But I would like to tell those deaf ears that she didn’t wait for the wounded at the hospital because the Israeli army’s massive use of live fire made it necessary for first responders to be in the field — just like Israeli medics would at a mass casualty event.
And no, this is not “how it is in war.” Firstly, this is not a war. This is heavily armed soldiers facing down unarmed protesters. Secondly, even in war there are rules, and sniper fire against medics, journalists and children is a war crime as per the resolutions of Geneva convention and Hamas did not force her to be there, either. Some stone hearted people also claimed that the entire story of Razan was fabricated, that they put a paramedic’s uniform on her body only after she died.
No amount of photos showing Najjar treating wounded protesters over the past month could convince them. Palestinians, to them, are liars by definition.It was too frustrating to gulp down those posts on social media.But then I saw Razan’s interview shared by a user in which she says, “People ask my father what I am doing here and getting a salary, ‘I’m proud of my daughter, she provides care to the children of our country.”
And, because in our society, women are often judged, but society has to accept us . If people 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 as a first-responder on the first day of the protests — I dare you to find it in anyone else
After that, I watched a short video of young men and women, perhaps Razan’s friends, perhaps her family members, in tears, their piercing cries announcing her death. One of them held his head and shouted her name over and over again
I seriously apologize here. The bitter truth is that the Israeli collective consciousness is light-years away from a place where it can even begin speak about the basic concepts of justice, human rights, and human equality before God. I doubt that years of occupation and moral corruption can be corrected.
I also apologize to my dearest sister Razan, the young Gazan woman who lived her whole life under occupation, more than half under the brutal siege. She did not taste a single day of freedom in her short life. She went out into the Valley of Death by the separation barrier to care for her wounded countrymen and never came back. With shame beyond words, I apologize. Rest in peace Razan! May your memory bring freedom and justice to your people.
—The author, from Keran, Kupwara, can be reached at: email@example.com