THE killing of a volunteer medic in Gaza as she rushed to attend injured protesters has been condemned as a war crime by the charity for which she worked.
Razan al-Najjar was working with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), a partner of Christian Aid, when she was shot by an Israeli sniper at the Gaza-Israel border on 1 June, as she ran to help a casualty. Thousands of Gazans took to the streets for her funeral the next day.
Ms al-Najjar is the second medical worker to die tending protesters, who have been demonstrating for two months at the border in support of the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral home in Israel. So far, about 112 Palestinians have been killed during the demonstrations by Israeli forces.
The PMRS said in a statement: “Shooting at medical personnel is a war crime under the Geneva conventions.” A statement from the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that it was “deeply concerned”, and called for the protection of medical workers.
The Israeli military is investigating the death, but, in an interim statement, it said that initial findings showed that “no shots were deliberately or directly aimed towards her”.
The director of PMRS, Dr Aed Yaghi, said that three more of its volunteers were shot at on the same day, and 30 of their paramedics had been injured during the protests.
Christian Aid’s head of Middle East policy, William Bell, said: “Razan was shot dead by Israeli forces as she provided vital medical assistance to injured protesters in Gaza. Since the beginning of these protests PMRS, with Christian Aid’s support, has provided life-saving assistance to thousands of victims through the Gaza Strip.”
He said that the UK Government must call on Israel to end the occupation, and that Ms al-Nazzar’s death highlighted the “misjudgement of the UK Government’s decision not to support a UN Commission of Enquiry to assess violations of international law in Gaza”.
The charity Embrace the Middle East has also called on the UK Government to reconsider its decision. The UK abstained on the UN vote, saying it believed that the resolution was “partial”, and it called on Israel to carry out its own “independent and transparent investigation”.
The demand for the UK to reconsider has been backed by other charities and Christian denominations, including Quakers in Britain, and CAFOD.