Home Middle East & Turkey Middle East In Gaza, grief and pain for slain ‘angel of mercy’ paramedic

In Gaza, grief and pain for slain ‘angel of mercy’ paramedic

Gaza
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Too worn out to shed more tears, Sabreen al-Najjar recalls the last time she saw her daughter alive.”She stood up and smiled at me, saying she was heading out to the protest,” the 43-year-old told Al Jazeera from her home in Khuza’a, southern Gaza Strip.

That protest was the 10th Friday demonstration held by Palestinians since March 30 near the fence with Israel dubbed the Great March of Return. Sabreen’s daughter, 21-year-old Razan, had been in all of them, volunteering as a paramedic to help those shot by Israeli snipers.

Razan also dismissed societal judgment towards women working in the field, where she herself would put in 13-hour shifts, beginning from 7 am until 8 pm.

“In a blink of an eye, she was out of the door. I ran to the balcony to watch her outside but she had already made her way to the end of the street,” Sabreen said on Saturday, surrounded by grieving relatives, friends and female patients her daughter had once treated.

“She flew like a bird in front of me.”

At the protest site in Khuza’a, witnesses said that Razan approached the fence on Friday in her medic’s vest and with both of her arms raised to show the Israeli soldiers a 100 yards away that she posed no threat.

Read more: Palestinian killed in Israel strike in north Gaza: ministry

Her intention was to evacuate a wounded protester lying on the other side of the fence after he had managed to cut a hole through it. Instead, Razan was shot in her chest with live ammunition, the single bullet escaping through a hole in the back of her vest.

She became the 119th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces since the popular protests began calling for the Palestinians’ right of return to the homes from which they were expelled from in 1948. More than 13,000 others have been wounded.

Rida Najjar, also a medical volunteer, said she was standing next to Razan when she was shot.”As we entered the fence to retrieve the protesters, the Israelis shot tear gas at us,” the 29-year-old, who is not related to Razan, said.

Sabreen’s daughter, 21-year-old Razan, had been in all of them, volunteering as a paramedic to help those shot by Israeli snipers.

“Then a sniper fired a single shot, which hit Razan directly. The fragments of the bullet wounded three other members of our team.”Razan at first didn’t realize she had been shot, but then she started crying out, ‘My back, my back!’ and then she fell to the ground.

“It was very clear from our uniforms, our vests and medical bags, who we are,” she added. “There were no other protesters around, it was just us.”In an interview April 20, Razan said that she felt it was her “duty and responsibility” to be present at the protests and help the wounded.

Read more: Israel’s Supreme Court upholds open-fire rules on Gaza border

“The Israeli army does intend to shoot as many as they can,” she said at the time. “It’s crazy and I’d be ashamed if I was not there for my people.”Speaking to The New York Times last month, Razan described the enthusiasm she had for the work she did.

“We have one goal – to save lives and evacuate [wounded] people,” she said. “We do this for our country,” she continued, adding that it was humanitarian work. Razan also dismissed societal judgment towards women working in the field, where she herself would put in 13-hour shifts, beginning from 7 am until 8 pm.

“Women are often judged but society has to accept us,” Razan said. “If they don’t want to accept us by choice, they will be forced to accept us. Because we have more strength than any man.”

Sabreen said her daughter had been on the front lines tending to injured protesters since March 30 – and not just on Fridays. She became a familiar face at the Khan Younis encampment, one of five set up along the length of the fence east of the Gaza Strip.

“She never cared about what people said,” Sabreen said. “She concentrated on her work in the field as a volunteer medic, which reflected her strength and her determination.”My daughter had no weapons; she was a medic,” she added. “She gave a lot to her people.”


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