Last Friday, 21-year-old Palestinian paramedic Razan Al Najjar went to the aid of a wounded Palestinian protester in Gaza. As with any paramedic in any part of the world, she wore the attire of a paramedic and was clearly visible as to her role in the unfolding events. Tending to the wounded, she moved around with her hands held high, wearing a medic’s coat and surgical gloves, so that everyone could see she was there in her capacity as a paramedic. She has been photographed on numerous occasions helping Palestinians injured by Israeli fire during protests.
And despite all the apparent and visible manifestations of this brave young Palestinian lady as a paramedic treating the wounded and injured, an Israeli sniper held her in his crosshairs as he took aim, pulled the trigger and blew her away. How much hate do you have to hold in your heart to kill a young, angel of mercy in cold blood?
The peaceful protests are being carried out to mark the Nakba (the great catastrophe) when more than 750,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes 70 years ago and now their seven million refugee descendants maintain the right to return.
Najjar’s killing took place east of Khan Younis during Friday protests as Palestinians continued their Great March of Return demonstrations. The initiative sheds light on the right of return for Palestinian refugees displaced in 1948 from their towns and villages in what is now Israel.
This latest episode also followed weeks of deadly demonstrations which began on March 30. They peaked on May 14 when at least 61 Palestinians were killed as tens of thousands protested the US transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem the same day. At least 121 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during this time, with no Israeli fatalities reported.
Razan Al Najjar’s brutal murder epitomizes the struggle of the Palestinian people and the barbarity of the Israelis. Israel has faced severe international criticism and there are calls for an independent investigation over its use of live fire during the protests.
Pastor Flloyd N. Hall, writing in his recent column in Barbados Today titled ‘Israel and the Promised Land,” stated: “ . . . that Israel is gallantly defending today a part of that Promised Land. And they have been defending it since 1948.”
Gallantly defending? How can an occupier be gallantly defending anything? And what is gallant about shooting with live fire, unarmed protesters? What is gallant about an Israeli sniper who deliberately targets a paramedic who is treating the wounded, armed only with her cotton wool, shooting two bullets through her back?
Israel must be charged with war crimes. Their continued acts of barbarism cannot go unpunished and the just world is waking up to that reality.
Yvonne Ridley, a journalist and writer explains succinctly in her piece “A tale of two women.”
“While Razan took her last breath, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was facing down the 15-member Security Council.
The UN was struggling, as usual, to formulate any statement regarding the deadly onslaught from Israel directed to the Palestinians, since the start of the marches in Gaza. Kuwait tried to break the deadlock by tabling a motion calling for protection for the Palestinian people.
Meanwhile, Haley slammed down a US resolution condemning Hamas for a volley of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip in response to the 119 Palestinian dead and 13,000 injured since the protests began.
Votes on the two resolutions were taken just shortly after Razan’s life was cut short. Haley was left humiliated after having failed to get any votes other than her own, with three voting against her resolution and 11 abstaining.
This was a history-making episode for the American ambassador. Never before had a resolution crashed with the only support coming from the country which proposed it in the first place. She was further humiliated when she alone vetoed the resolution to protect the Palestinians.
This is the same woman who swaggered with such arrogance as she left the debating chamber when Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters was condemned. Sticking two fingers, metaphorically at protocol, she swept out of the chamber refusing to listen to the plight of the Palestinians.
Razan was cut down so brutally in her prime while Haley was cut down and humiliated, although she will live on to submit more resolutions to the UN.
However, Razan’s name will live on in peoples’ minds for years to come and she will go down in Palestine as a legendary woman, while Haley will be lucky if she even makes a footnote in history for her efforts on the same day Razan was martyred.
As so eloquently stated by Shakespeare’s Caesar: “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.” RIP Razan.
The United States of America, under this present administration, has chosen to give full support to Israel, even more so than previous administrations. It signals its bias in any future prospects for peace talks and a suitable settlement. President Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem further exasperated the situation and strengthened Israel’s resolve to destroy the Palestinian people with impunity.
Israel has, since 1948, continued to strip piece by piece, the identity of the Palestinian people. They have destroyed their homes, villages, orchards, and livelihood. The Palestinian people are the living testimony today, in our 21st century, of an occupied people whose occupiers are held up in the world’s eye as “God’s chosen people”. Judaism doesn’t teach this as borne out by numerous Rabbis and Jewish scholars who condemn the state of Israel and the actions of the Zionists who control that State.
The humiliation that is daily inflicted on the Palestinian people by Israelis to get even basic services is beyond comprehension. Palestinians simply have no rights in their occupied lands.
How can writers like Pastor Hall quote scriptures to justify occupying another peoples’ land and country and such barbaric behaviour? And the question earlier in this column returns to haunt me and should haunt him too – ‘how much hate do you have to hold in your heart to kill a young, angel of mercy in cold blood?’
He proffers that had the Palestinians accepted the Partition plan given to them by the British they would have been better off. So, an outside power comes to Barbados, divides up the land mass, give most to some foreigners and leaves some for the Barbadians and we are expected to accept that because, according to the foreigner’s interpretation of the scripture, this land was promised to them? Would Pastor Hall accept that?
Pastor Hall further surmises that “it would seem by these victories in modern times that God is keeping His promise that Palestine truly belongs to the Jews.” I guess his understanding of victory is a sniper blowing away an unarmed paramedic helping the wounded and treating the injured.
Young Razan Al Najjar – your short but fulfilling life was taken in this blessed month of fasting on a blessed day. Your death will not be in vain and your great deeds at such a young and tender age will not go unrewarded. Yours is paradise and all the bounties that the Creator will grant you.
(Suleiman Bulbulia is a Justice of the Peace. Secretary of the Barbados Muslim Association and Muslim Chaplain at the Cave Hill Campus, UWI.