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3 Jun, 2018 03:51

‘It wasn't a random bullet’: Palestinians mourn 21yo paramedic as Israel blames Hamas

As thousands gathered for the funeral of a 21-year-old medical worker shot by the IDF while helping wounded Palestinians, the volunteer's family and colleagues told RT of their grief, stressing that she was deliberately murdered.

During Friday's 10th weekly Great March of Return protest, the Israeli forces shot and killed 21-year-old Razan Al-Najar, a volunteer with the Medical Relief Society, who was assisting the wounded near the border fence east of Khan Younes, in the southern Gaza Strip.

"We were trying to get the injured from the fence," Razan's colleague, Lamya Najjar, who witnessed her murder, told RT. "When the Israeli saw us approaching, the Israeli snipers targeted us with tear gas. We were suffocating from the tear gas, and then they started to shoot randomly, [and] one of the bullets that were targeting us hit Razan in the chest."

"We were all targeted and we are all civilians and only a medical team," Shaimaa Qudaih, another colleague of Razan, told RT's Ruptly video agency. "We were discussing how to offer assistance to the injured, when, me, my partners, Razan, Mahmoud and Rami were suddenly shot directly as the medical crew."

Razan's mother is convinced that her daughter was deliberately targeted by the Israeli fire, allegedly for her role in saving the wounded ever since the Great March of return protests erupted on March 30.

"My daughter Razan was targeted. They knew she was a paramedic. She was the first female paramedic in the field," Sabreen Najar told RT. "She was directly shot by the Israeli forces. The bullet deliberately targeted her, it was not a random bullet. It was a sniper."

Her father, Ibrahim, shares the same sentiment, noting that Razan was wearing a white medical uniform when she was shot. "That was clear to all but she was intentionally targeted by the Israeli army," he told Ruptly.

At least three other medical workers were wounded on Friday, Mohammed Al Hessi, the Head of Emergency Paramedics and Ambulances for the Red Crescent told RT, confirming that Al-Najar was shot in the back.

"It's not the first time the Israeli forces targeted paramedics in the field. This is a war crime against the medical teams in Gaza Strip. They have been targeting paramedics and ambulances with live ammunition and teargas in the past weeks. This violates the human rights and international laws," the Red Crescent official stressed.

The IDF vowed to review the case, explaining that the tragedy occurred during a response to a major security incident at the border fence, where Palestinians allegedly fired on Israeli lines, planted a grenade and hurled explosive devices towards IDF troops.

"The IDF has repeatedly warned civilians against approaching the fence and taking part in violent incidents and terrorist attacks and will continue to act professionally and determinedly to protect Israeli civilians and Israeli security infrastructure," the IDF said, in a written statement to RT. "Unfortunately, the Hamas terror organization deliberately and methodically places civilians in danger."

While Israel considers all Palestinians approaching the border fence as alleged "Hamas members" and thus legitimate targets, medical workers are protected under Article 24 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which specifically forbids targeting "medical personnel exclusively engaged in the search for, or the collection, transport or treatment of the wounded or sick."

"Our message is humanitarian we go to the border, to rescue injured people. We are not terrorists," Lamya told RT. "We are unarmed. We are wearing our paramedic uniform. All we have is medical tools and medicine to heal the injuries."

"We are only a medical team, we don't have any weapons," Qudaih added. "What we have is just the equipment needed to help those injured from suffocation, or live bullets. We have nothing to threaten the Israeli army with."

Meanwhile, crowds of mourners carried the body of the 21-year old victim through the streets of her hometown Khuza to a cemetery in Khan Yunis. "Razan was an angel," her cousin told RT. "In the field, she was healing the wounds of the injured people."

"She used to buy medicine for the injured people who can't afford to buy their own medicine," her mother recalled. "She used to tell me everything every day. She used to come home with blood on her uniform."

Nearly 120 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the so-called Great March of Return on March 30, mainly by live Israeli fire. Thousands of others have been injured as Israel maintains its right to protect the border by all means necessary.

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