We know her name but not, as the courageous Israeli journalist Amira Hass has pointed out, the name of the Israeli sniper who shot her down in cold blood during an unarmed demonstration at the blockaded Gazan border as she ran to aid a man struck in the head by a tear gas shell. She was 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar, a volunteer emergency medical worker, who, reported the New York Times, wanted to prove in an increasingly conservative Gaza Strip that “being a medic is not only a job for a man.” Wearing a white coat clearly identifying her as medical personnel, she was shot through the chest and died in a Gazan hospital later that day. (Two other medics were wounded in the same set of incidents.) She was the second medic to die (while a reported 29 or more medical personnel were wounded by live fire) during the weeks of Palestinian protest called the Great Return March that just ended. The other was 36-year-old Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein, wearing a white medic’s vest.
In its “investigation” of the killing of Razan, the Israeli army claimed that “no shots were deliberately or directly aimed towards” her, but given the number of medical personnel who have been shot by snipers in recent weeks, such a claim rings hollow indeed as the desperation and determination of a Gazan population locked into what can only be thought of as a vast open-air prison becomes ever more apparent globally. Today, Fadi Abu Shammalah and TomDispatch regular Jen Marlowe provide an on-the-spot look at what propelled Razan and so many other women, young and old, toward that border wall with Israel and possible death and the ways in which women like her, in doing so, were also changing the nature of Gazan society.