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Twitter Hits Back at Israeli Attempt to Smear Slain Gaza Medic Razan Al-Najjar

World  (tags: u.s. media-news/world, slain Gaza medic Razan al-Najjar, israel smear campaign, Gaza border murders 2018, Great March of Return, Palestinian human rights, siege of Gaza, Twitter, middle-east, palestine, world, Refugees&Relief, Israel crimes against Palestinians )

- 134 days ago -
Misleading official Israeli videos slammed as abject dehumanisation of young Palestinian paramedic to'retroactively justify her killing


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fly b (26)
Thursday June 7, 2018, 2:30 pm
Twitter hits back at Israeli attempt to smear slain Gaza medic Razan al-Najjar.

Misleading official Israeli videos slammed as 'abject dehumanisation' of young Palestinian paramedic to'retroactively justify' her killing.

Volunteer medic Razan al-Najjar was shot and killed by Israeli forces on 1 June while treating wounded protesters in southern Gaza

Last update: Thursday 7 June 2018

Israeli officials were criticised on Thursday for claiming Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar was acting as a human shield for Hamas when she was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in Gaza on Friday.

The Israeli army's Arabic spokesman, Avichay Adraee, shared a video on social media that used truncated footage of an interview in which the 21-year-old Palestinian stated: “I am medic Razan al-Najjar, I am here on the front lines and I act as a human shield”.

The video cut the remainder of the sentence: " a rescuer for the injured on the front lines."

It also showed Najjar grabbing an Israeli tear gas cannister and throwing it away from protesters. Adraee claimed Najjar was aiming the cannister at Israeli soldiers stationed hundreds of metres away behind the fence separating Gaza from Israel.

Social media users denounced the video as part of a broader Israeli strategy to discredit Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

Translation: Razan al-Najjar was not as an angel of mercy as Hamas propaganda is trying to present her. She recognised that she was a human shield for troublemakers, which proves that Hamas exploits all segments of the Gazan community in favour of its goals and Iran's. Do medics around the world throw bombs, participate in riots and call themselves human shields?

Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also shared an English-language version of the video.

Both highlighted Najjar’s use of the term “human shield” to link her to Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, and accuse her of complicity with “terrorists”.

However, social media users were quick to point out that Najjar’s quote was taken out of context, effectively distorting her point.

Adraee's reference to the tear gas cannister was also criticised.

Najjar had served for 10 weeks as a volunteer medic at protests on the fence separating Gaza from Israel when she was shot east of Khan Younis in the southern part of the besieged coastal enclave on Friday.

Her death prompted international outcry, as the woman’s youth and outspokenness to the media prior to her death brought about a flood of sympathy nearly three months into a mass protest movement in Gaza, during which Israeli forces have killed at least 123 Palestinians and wounded more than 13,600, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Najjar was the second Palestinian paramedic to be killed since the beginning of the Great March of Return, which advocates for the right of Gaza’s 1.3 million refugees to move back to the villages from where their families were displaced prior to and during the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

Palestinians and their supporters have been quick to point out that Israeli attempts at discrediting Najjar are likely a deliberate move to evade accountability for her death.

An initial internal investigation by the Israeli army into her killing concluded on Tuesday that Najjar was not “intentionally” shot, paving the way for Israeli forces to absolve themselves in the case.

Israeli officials regularly accuse Hamas and other Palestinian groups of using civilians as “human shields” to cover fighters attempting to attack Israeli targets - de facto laying the blame on Palestinians for getting shot by Israeli forces.

However, the Israeli army has a long and documented record of using Palestinians as human shields in the occupied territory during times of outright conflict as well as during ‘routine’ raids.

This isn’t the first time since the beginning of the Great March of Return that Israeli officials have tried to demonise Palestinians killed by the army.

In April, Palestinian photojournalist Yasser Murtaja was shot and killed while covering the protests. Shortly afterwards, Israeli Defence Minister Lieberman accused Murtaja of being an active member of Hamas, but provided no evidence to back his claims.

Lieberman’s statement was promptly debunked by the US State Department itself, which indicated that Murtaja’s news organisation had recently been vetted and approved for an American grant, making it extremely unlikely that the journalist was affiliated with Hamas.

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) General Secretary Anthony Bellanger slammed Lieberman at the time for being “more interested in spouting propaganda and engaging in a cover-up than in carrying out a thorough and transparent investigation and bringing Yasser’s killers to justice”.

“It is time for the Israeli authorities to stop fabricating lies to justify murder,” Bellanger added at the time.

Janis K (126)
Thursday June 7, 2018, 2:32 pm
Thanks for sharing.

Chrissie R (9)
Thursday June 7, 2018, 4:57 pm

Colleen L (3)
Thursday June 7, 2018, 8:16 pm
Thanks Fly

fly b (26)
Thursday June 7, 2018, 8:23 pm

fly b (26)
Thursday June 7, 2018, 8:23 pm
Jewish Israeli activists call for Palestinian right of return, hang portraits of protesters murdered in Gaza on Apartheid Wall.
June 7, 2018

The following press release was sent to Mondoweiss regarding two actions in support of the right of return that were taken by Jewish groups in Israel today:

At 6 AM today, an anonymous group of Israeli-Jewish activists, calling themselves “RETURN” hung photos of the martyrs of the Great Return March on the Gaza Apartheid Fence. The protest was done against Israel’s extrajudicial killings of protesters during the Great Return March, including journalists, medics and unarmed demonstrators.

The action was inspired by a call from the #GreatReturnMarch in Gaza for international solidarity. The RETURN activists hung portraits of Gazans murdered by Israeli forces, including the now-iconic portrait of the young medic, Razan Al Najjar. Earlier this week, Gazan professor Haider Eid wrote, “the slogan of the Great March of Return is “I want to go home.” Seventy percent of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees from cities and towns in Israel… It’s time for the world to stand up and act– to impose sanctions on Israeli industries until Palestinians are granted freedom, civil rights, and justice.

One of the activists of RETURN stated, “The Palestinians besieged in Gaza are marching home, back to the villages and cities from which they were expelled. They are marching out of the desert that Israel has transformed Gaza into and because of this, the Israeli Occupying army is murdering them in cold blood. The courage and sacrifice of these people demand of us all to stand up and ensure an end to Israeli impunity. Apartheid must end and we are the ones who must end it.”

Later this morning “Israeli Jews in Support of Palestinian Return” posted posters of Akhmad Al-‘Adinie whos family was expelled from Bir As-Saba and ‘Abd Al-Qadr Al-Khawajry whos family was expelled from Bureir – Both were murdered by Israeli soldiers as they tried to return to their homes. The posters where posted near the Mosque of Bir AsSaba, in honor of their persistence and devotion. The group calls for the return of all the Palestinian refugees in Gaza and elsewhere.

fly b (26)
Thursday June 7, 2018, 8:27 pm
Israeli army says the killing of Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar was ‘just an accident’.
Jonathan Ofir June 6, 2018

“Israeli soldiers did not fire directly at Razan al-Najjar, a Palestinian medic who was killed on Friday during protests on the Gaza border, a preliminary military investigation found”, Yaniv Kubovich reports for Haaretz.

The probe is not concluded, it is only in its early stages. Yet they can already tell us about this unequivocal finding. It was an accident. From Haaretz:

“The probe was based primarily on interviews with soldiers who were on the scene. As part of the inquiry, which the military said hasn’t concluded yet, the military examined who opened fire during the event and how much ammunition was used. The investigation found the soldiers opened fire at other demonstrators, and not directly at Najjar.”

Here is the tweet from the Israeli Defense Forces.

Now, why should we not believe this? The “most moral army in the world” said it, that couldn’t possibly be wrong, right?

(Cartoon: Carlos Latuff)

Well you don’t have to go far back in time to understand why Israeli army investigations have a huge credibility problem.

The case of the Samir Awad

This week, in the case of the 2013 killing of 16-year-old Samir Awad of Budrus when he posed absolutely no danger (8 bullets in the back, including one to the head), the state prosecution decided to drop the charges earlier this week, charges that had been watered down to “negligence”.

As John Brown notes in the detailed account (Hebrew, Haaretz ), the investigation proved to be full of lies. First the force claimed to not have used live fire at all, but only means for dispersing stone-throwing demonstrations. Except that stones were not even thrown there. After it became clear that the boy died of his wounds, the version was changed into them shooting non-lethal warning shots and that Samir merely fell and died of his fall. When it was revealed from the autopsy that Samir had died from a bullet to the head, the version was changed into one wherein Samir supposedly posed a lethal threat to the lives of the soldiers. In the end, the forensic examination was so sloppy, that it could not be determined which of two soldiers fired the lethal shot.

It took a whole lot of effort to get to indictment, with the help of B’Tselem, and it ended only with a charge of “negligence”, but even that was dropped. The defense’s threat to open up the can of worms regarding many other cases was apparently too serious a threat for the state. (The defense had said that mere indictment in this case would be discriminatory, since they could show 110 other cases, some even more egregious, and only 3 resulted in indictment, including the Elor Azarya and Ben Deri cases that were filmed and publicized).

Israeli legal human rights organization Yesh Din said in a statement issued in response:

“The prosecutor’s announcement of the cancellation of the indictments against the two soldiers involved in the killing of the youth Samir Awad constitutes another example of the impunity enjoyed by soldiers who wound Palestinians.”

“The bottom line is that the military system protects soldiers who violate the law and wound Palestinians, while leaving Palestinians defenseless.”

Gaby Lasky, a lawyer who represents the Awad family, commented:

“[The decision to withdraw the charges was] another case of whitewashing the killing of Palestinians. A teenager was shot in the head with his back to the soldiers on his way to the village where he lives. There are no legal orders that permit shooting at the upper body under such circumstances, in which there is no danger to the lives of the soldiers or other people and no danger whatsoever. If there are rules of engagement that permit such shooting, then those rules themselves are illegal.”

“Falling off a bike”

In the case of the December 2017 shooting in the head of 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi (Ahed’s cousin), who miraculously survived, an Israeli general seriously claimed that Mohammed’s injury was simply due to his falling off his bike.

Major General Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), claimed on a Facebook post that Mohammed was not hit by a bullet, but rather fell from his bicycle. Mordechai is the highest direct authority of the Israeli occupation, and he wrote this on the COGAT official Arabic Facebook page. “A culture of lies and incitement continues for young people and adults in the Tamimi family”, he wrote. The post was plastered with a red stamp saying “fake news” in Arabic. This ran against forensic evidence, of which there was no lack of. The army had simply managed to extract a “confession” from Mohammed, obtained under the usual criminal duress. There is no shame here.

Assumption of innocence

Israelis seem to love this assumption of innocence when it regards soldiers. The myth of the “most moral army in the world” is so addictive, that there is a reflexive proneness to believe anything that may confirm it, and to assume this innocence in advance. As I had mentioned two days ago, this assumption even comes from prominent Haaretz journalists, as in the actual case of Razan al-Najar. Asaf Ronel of Haaretz simply assumed that “it’s unlikely that a sniper deliberately killed Razan al-Najjar” – with absolutely no evidence to back it. Such assumptions are so common in Israel that they are hardly noticed anymore.

It is extremely rare that Israeli military cases involving killings actually get to indictment, and it usually requires an actual close-up filming of the event (with the shooter and the victim) to qualify it for some sort of indictment (as in the Azarya case), or sometimes extreme legal pressure from organizations and also international pressure, as in the case of the killing of British photographer and human rights activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza, 2004 (see on that in the link above re. Azarya).

Should we thus take the army by the word, and assume that the soldiers simply killed Razan al-Najjar by accident? That would be an extremely irresponsible thing to do. The army proclamation of innocence is meant for those who are already Hasbara-junkies, those who already believe the “most moral army” in advance. Because Israeli soldiers “are not murderers”.

H/t Hala Gabriel, Nasser Butt

Chrissie R (9)
Friday June 8, 2018, 12:07 pm
Everyone should read and educate themselves on both sides of issues before forming opinions. And in the end, it's still only an opinion.

fly b (26)
Friday June 8, 2018, 8:37 pm
No - some things, are facts.

Finding the truth amid Israel’s lies
Ilan Pappe

30 May 2018

Great sadness and suffering flooded the roads – convoy upon convoy of refugees making their way [to the Lebanese border]. They leave the villages of their homeland and the homeland of their ancestors and move to an alien, unknown new land, full of troubles. Women, children, babies, donkeys – everyone is on the move, quietly and sadly, to the north, without looking left or right.

A woman cannot find her husband, a child cannot find his father … Everything that can walk is moving, running away not knowing what to do, not knowing where they are going. Many of their belongings are spread on the sideways; the more they walk the more exhausted they become, they nearly cannot walk anymore – shedding from the bodies everything they tried to salvage when they are on their way to exile …

I met an 8-year-old boy going north and leading before him two donkeys. His father and brother died in the fighting and he lost his mother … I passed through the way between Sasa and Tarbiha and I saw a tall man, bent, scratching with his hands something on the tough rocky terrain. I stopped. I noticed a small dent in the land that was dug by bare hands, with nails, under the olive tree. The man laid in it a body of a baby who died in the arms of his mother and buried it with dirt and [covered it with] small stones. Then he went back to the road and continued to move north, his bent wife walking a few steps behind him, without looking back. I ran into an old man, who fainted on a rock on the sideway and nobody among the refugees dares to help him … When we went into Birim, everyone fled in their fright in the direction of the wadi facing north, taking their little kids and as much cloth as they could. The next day, they came back as the Lebanese did not allow them to enter. Seven babies died of hypothermia.

This moving description was not written by a human rights activist, a UN observer or a caring journalist. It was written by Moshe Carmel and appears in his book Northern Campaigns – first published in 1949.

He toured the Galilee at the end of October 1948, after commanding Operation Hiram, in which Israeli forces committed some of the worst atrocities in the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The crimes were so serious that some leading Zionists described them as Nazi actions.

Carmel’s book and dozens like it – brigade books, memoirs and military histories – could be found on the shelves of Israeli Jewish homes from 1948 onwards. Revisiting them, 70 years on, reveals an elementary truth: it would have been possible to write the “new history” of 1948 without a single new declassified document, but only if these open sources, as I call them, had been read with non-Zionist lenses.

The famous – and by now overused – expression that history is written by the victors can be countered in many ways. One way is by unpacking the victors’ publications in order to expose the lies, fabrications and misrepresentations, as well as their less conscious actions.

A rereading of these open sources about the Nakba, mostly written by Israelis themselves, unlocks fresh historiographical perspectives on the big picture of that period – while declassified documents allow us to see that picture in a higher resolution.

This reprise could have been done at any moment between 1948 and today – as long as historians were willing to employ the critical lens needed for such an examination.

Rereading these open sources, especially in tandem with the numerous oral histories of the Nakba, reveals the barbarism and dehumanization that accompanied the catastrophe. The barbarism is common to settler communities in the formative years of their colonization projects and can sometimes be obscured by the dry and evasive language of military and political documents.

I do not mean to belittle the importance of archival documents. They are important for telling us what happened. However, the open sources and oral histories are crucial for understanding the meaning of what happened.

Such a rereading exposes the settler-colonial DNA of the Zionist project and the place of the 1948 ethnic cleansing within it.

Dehumanization on a massive scale

Take the Carmel quotation, for instance. How could someone overseeing such atrocities write so compassionately?

The clue is in another sentence in the same quotation that appears almost as a digression: “And then I noticed a 16-year-old boy, totally naked smiling at us, when we passed him (funny, when I passed him I did not tell because of his nakedness to which people he belonged and I only saw him as a human being).”

For one very exceptional short moment, that Palestinian kid was humanized (within the parentheses in the text). But dehumanization occurred on a scale we witness only in massive crimes such as ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The rule was that children were considered as part of the enemy, who had to be cleansed for the sake of a Jewish state or as Carmel put it – a day after he finished his Galilee tour – for the sake of liberation.

He published this message to his troops: “The whole Galilee, the ancient Israeli Galilee, was liberated by the powerful and devastating force of the IDF [Israel’s military] … We eliminated the enemy, we destroyed it and caused it to flee … We [conquered] Meiron [Mayrun], Gush Halav [Jish], Sasa and Malkiya … We destroyed the enemies’ nests of Tarshiha, Eilabun, Mghar and Rami … The castles of the enemy fell one after the other.”

Seventy years after the Nakba, the Hebrew language is as important a tool as access to the closed Israeli archives. The Hebrew text clearly tells you who the enemy was – the enemy that fled, was eliminated and expelled from its “castles.”

They are the people Carmel met. And for a moment, he was moved by their suffering.


The most important discursive elements in these kinds of reports are the concepts of liberation and elimination (shihrur and hisul). What this meant, in reality, was an attempt to indigenize the occupiers of Palestine through the de-indigenization of the Palestinians.

This is the essence of a settler-colonial project and Carmel’s book – and those by others – reveal it in full. Carmel saw the 1948 occupation as a redemption of the Roman Galilee.

These violent acts against the Palestinians had very little to do with finding a haven from anti-Semitism.

The Zionist project was, and still is, a project of de-indigenizing the Palestinian population and replacing it with one comprised of Jewish settlers. It was in many ways the implementation of a romantic nationalist ideology, the like of which fed fanatic Italian and German nationalism in the late 19th century and beyond.

This link is clear in books about the brigades in the Israeli army. One such book, The Alexandroni Brigade and The War of Independence, is a case in point.

The Alexandroni Brigade was entrusted with the occupation of much of Palestine’s coast, north of Jaffa, about 60 villages in total. Before occupation of the villages, the troops were taught about the historical context of their operations. The narrative provided by the commanders is repeated in the book in two chapters. The first is titled “The Military Past of the Alexandroni Space” and it begins by saying “the front in which the Alexandroni Brigade faced in the war of Independence is unique in the military history of the region and of Eretz Israel [Greater Israel] in particular.”

This was the Sharon – the coast of Palestine in the Zionist narrative – which is an invented term with no roots in history. The Sharon, the book on the Alexandroni Brigade tells us, was “a rich and quite fertile land” that “attracted” armies during their “occupation journeys” into the land of Israel. This historical chapter is full of tales of heroism, claiming, for example, “this is where [the people of] Israel under [the prophet] Shmuel confronted the Philistines.”

The Hebrews were always disadvantaged in the battle against their enemies but “then as today, it was the superior spirit that tipped the balance in favor of Israel.”

Under Baibars, the Mamluk sultan, the Sharon was destroyed as an agricultural land and “from then on the Sharon would regain its economic vitality until its resettlement with the Zionist immigration [aliya],” the book states. Baibars, by the way, had been there in 1260. So the book on the Alexandroni Brigade tells its readers that the Sharon had been without people for more than 600 years, which is Zionist fabrication of history at its best.

During the Ottoman period the Sharon “was in total devastation, saturated with swamps and malaria,” the book adds. “Only with the Jewish aliya and settlement in the end of the 19th century a new period of prosperity [in the Sharon’s history] began.”

The Zionists “returned” the Sharon to its former glory and it became one of the most Jewish areas in the “Mandatory Eretz Israel” – as the book calls Palestine when it was administered by a British mandate.

“Villages must be destroyed”

The ethnic cleansing of the Hebrew coast began while Palestine was under British control. Britain was, in many respects, a vital ally of the Zionist movement. Yet it did not facilitate the colonization of Palestine as quickly as some Zionists wanted. The book on the Alexandroni Brigade even depicts Britain as being a sometimes inhuman obstacle to Jewish “redemption.”

So the Sharon clearly still had Arabs in it. The book describes the region as the lifeline for the Jewish community, yet suggests that Jewish life was disrupted by the many surrounding Arab villages.

It was mainly the eastern part of the Sharon that was “purely Arab and constituted the main threat towards the Jewish settlements; a threat that had to be taken into account in any military planning.”

The “threat” was “taken into account” first by isolated attacks on villages. The book says that up to 29 November 1947 the relationship between Jews and Palestinians was good and continued to be so after that date. And yet a sentence later the books tells us that “in the beginning of 1948, the process of abandoning isolated Arab villages began. One can see the early signs for this in the abandonment of Sidan Ali (al-Haram) by its 220 Arab inhabitants and Qaisriya by its 1,100 Arab inhabitants in mid-February 1948.” There were two massive expulsions that took place while the British forces who were responsible for law and order, watched on and did not interfere. Then “in March with the escalation of the fighting, the process of abandonment intensified.”

The “escalation” came with the implementation of Plan Dalet – a blueprint for destroying Palestinian villages. The book on the Alexandroni Brigade brings a summary of the orders emanating from the plan. The orders include the task of “determining the Arab villages that must be seized or destroyed.”

There were 55 villages, according to the book, in the area occupied according to Plan Dalet. The Hebrew Sharon was almost completely “liberated” in March 1948 when the coast “was cleansed” from Arab villages apart from four. In the language of the book: “Most of the areas near the coast were cleansed from Arab villages, apart from … a ‘small triangle’ and in it the Arab villages of Jaba, Ein Ghazal and Ijzim – which stuck out like a sore thumb, overlooking the Tel Aviv-Haifa road; there were also Arabs in Tantura on the beach.”

A deeper analysis of these texts and other open sources would shed light on the structural nature of the ongoing settler colonial project in Palestine, the ongoing Nakba.

The history of the Nakba is thus not only a chronicle of the past, but an examination of a historical moment that is continuing in the historian’s time. Social scientists are far more equipped to deal with “moving targets” – namely analyzing contemporary phenomena – but historians, so we are told, need distance to reflect on and see the full picture.

On the face it, 70 years should provide enough distance, but on the other hand, this is like an attempt to understand the Soviet Union, or for that matter the Crusades, by contemporaries, and not by historians.

Sites of memory, to use Pierre Nora’s concept, as well as the scholarly leaps of recent years are triggered not by declassification per se, but by their relevance to contemporary struggles.

Oral history projects, as well as the brigade books, are all crucial and accessible sources that penetrate the genuine and cynical Zionist, and later Israeli, shields of deception. They help understand why the concept of a democratic or enlightened settler state is an oxymoron.

Israel’s approved history

A deconstruction of Israel’s approved history is the best way to challenge a word laundrette that turns ethnic cleansing into self-defense, land robbery into redemption and apartheid practices into “security” concerns.

There is a sense, on the one hand, that after years of denial, the historiographical picture has been revealed worldwide with clear contours and colors. The Israeli narrative has been challenged successfully both in the academic world and in the public domain.

And yet there is a sense of frustration, given the limited access to declassified documents in Israel to scholars, even Israeli ones, while Palestinian scholars can hardly hope in the current political climate to have any access at all.

Going beyond the archival documents about the Nakba is, therefore, necessary not only for a better understanding of the event. It may also be a solution for researchers in the future, given the new Israeli policy on declassification.

Israel has closed most of the 1948 documents.

The alternative sources and approaches suggested in this piece highlight several points. A knowledge of Hebrew is helpful and the need to continue with oral history projects is essential.

The settler colonial paradigm also remains relevant for analyzing afresh both the Zionist project and resistance to it. Yet there are still issues with the adaptability of the paradigm – such as whether it can be applied to Jews from Arab countries who moved to Palestine – and these should be further explored.

But more than anything else we should insist that commitment to Palestine is not an obstacle for good scholarship but an enhancer of it. As Edward Said wrote: “But where are facts if not embedded in history, and then reconstituted and recovered by human agents stirred by some perceived or desired or hoped-for historical narrative whose future aim is to restore justice to the dispossessed?”

Justice and facts, moral positions, professional acumen and scholarly accuracy should not be juxtaposed one against the other but rather seen as all contributing to a wholesome historiographical enterprise. Very few historiographical projects are in need of such an integrative approach as the research on the ongoing Nakba.

fly b (26)
Friday June 8, 2018, 9:07 pm
Israeli Military Pushes Misleading Video in Attempt to Smear Slain Palestinian Medic Razan al-Najjar
June 08, 2018

In Gaza, thousands of Palestinians have resumed protests against the Israeli blockade. Israeli soldiers have killed at least 119 Palestinians and wounded more than 13,000 more since the Palestinians’ nonviolent Great March of Return protests began on March 30. A week ago today, Israeli forces shot dead Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar as she was helping evacuate wounded Palestinians at a protest near the separation fence between Israel and Gaza. At the time of her killing, she was wearing a white medical coat and a medical ID card. The following day, thousands of people poured into the streets of Gaza to attend her funeral. Her killing has also sparked international outrage. Earlier this week, the Israeli military said Israeli snipers had not intentionally shot at Razan. But the Israeli military is now facing widespread criticism after it released a short video Thursday, that was heavily edited, in efforts to claim the slain medic was acting as a “human shield” for Hamas when she was shot dead by an Israeli sniper exactly one week ago. We speak to Muhammad Shehada, writer and activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of development studies at Lund University in Sweden.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn to Gaza, where thousands of Palestinians have resumed protests against the Israeli blockade. Israeli soldiers have killed at least 119 Palestinians and wounded more than [13,000] others since the Palestinians’ nonviolent Great March of Return protests began on March 30th.

A week ago today, Israeli forces shot dead [Palestinian] medic Razan al-Najjar as she was helping evacuate wounded Palestinians at a protest near the separation fence between Israel and Gaza. At the time of her killing, she was wearing a white medical coat and a medical ID card. The following day, thousands of people poured into the streets of Gaza to attend her funeral. The Palestinian medic’s killing has also sparked international outrage. Earlier this week, the Israeli military said Israeli snipers had not intentionally shot at Razan. But now the Israeli military is facing widespread criticism after it released a short video Thursday, that was heavily edited, in efforts to claim that the slain Palestinian medic was acting as a “human shield” for Hamas when she was shot dead by an Israeli sniper. The video, posted by the Israeli Defense Forces, appears to show Razan throwing a smoke grenade into an empty field. The words on the video read, “This medic was incited by Hamas to give up her life for their goals.” It’s then followed by a short clip of the Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar speaking.

RAZAN AL-NAJJAR: [translated] I’m the paramedic Razan al-Najjar. I’m here at the front lines as a rescuing human shield.

AMY GOODMAN: After Razan speaks, the words on the video read, “Hamas uses paramedics as human shields.” After the video was released, the Israeli military spokesman Avichay Edraee tweeted, “Razan al-Najjar is not the angel of mercy that Hamas propaganda attempts to portray,” unquote. But the video has sparked immediate criticism for taking Razan’s words from a previous interview out of context in order to distort their meaning. This is a clip from the original interview, in which Razan is being interviewed by a journalist with Al Mayadeen News.

REPORTER: [translated] Razan, the idea of becoming a paramedic, how did that idea start for you? Tell us. Was it your own idea only? Did it cross through your mind? Tell us, if you may, please.

RAZAN AL-NAJJAR: [translated] I’m the paramedic Razan al-Najjar. I’m here at the front lines as a rescuing human shield to protect and save the wounded at the front lines. Indeed, this idea was not suggested to me by anybody. I did it for my own self, because I opted to go through this adventure and try rescuing the wounded at the front lines. I have enough strength, courage and daring to go through this experience, to join the field and be prepared to go to ground zero to save the souls of our martyrs and some of our wounded. They are our brothers, of course. And praise to God, I managed, with all my determination, persistence and strength, to continue on this course that I started and I will end. And I’ve been persistent for 45 days.

AMY GOODMAN: So that was Razan al-Najjar speaking, in her own words, about her efforts to rescue wounded Palestinian protesters, wounded by the Israeli military. Earlier this week, we spoke with Razan’s cousin, Dalia al-Najjar.

DALIA AL-NAJJAR: Razan was a very strong-minded girl, since she was very young. She always had dreams. She loved life. She was a source of positivity all the time. And being a nurse was one of her dreams. She worked hard to be one. She couldn’t get a degree in nursing, unfortunately, because of the financial situations her family were living under. And then she went and got training in nursing for two years, and she worked as a volunteer for two years without being paid. And then she felt it’s her duty to be a first responder, because it’s everyone’s duty. Everyone has a role in what’s going on. And she felt that she can do what she’s best at by being a first responder. She was one of the first female first responders.

And she inspired many people. I heard stories from her colleagues saying that other first responders used to motivate each other by mentioning her and talking about her. If anyone is sitting, they would tell him, “Come on, Razan broke her wrist, and yet she completed her shift.” So, she’s a source of inspiration for everyone.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Razan al-Najjar’s cousin, Dalia al-Najjar. We reached her in Istanbul, Turkey, where she’s co-founder of Xyla Water, an organization dedicated to making clean water accessible around the world.

Well, for more, we go to Sweden, via Democracy Now! video stream, to speak with Muhammad Shehada, writer and activist from the Gaza Strip, student of development studies at Lund University in Sweden. He writes for Haaretz, The Forward and other publications.

Muhammad, talk about this video that the Israeli military has released a week after Razan was gunned down by an Israeli sniper.

MUHAMMAD SHEHADA: Well, this incident shows how the IDF evidently feels able to, first of all, lie so blatantly, in a way that can be checked so easily, because it knows that the Western media and the Western reporters would catch the bait and convey its lies as unquestioned facts, or at least come as credible narratives. For instance, The New York Times reported about this specific incident or this specific controversy as opposing narratives, between the real video and what the IDF claims. Any reporter could simply just go on YouTube and check the full interview for her or himself. But the problem is that, again, they won’t do that. It’s a betrayal not only of heroism, not only of the courage and sacrifice of the Palestinian people; it’s just a betrayal of basic journalistic values.

As you have seen in the footage, the IDF footage, according to the shamelessly fabricated and doctored video, Razan was saying, very ironically, that she’s standing as a human shield. Her specific use of that word “human shield” was obviously intended to take a dehumanizing term, that is widely deployed by the IDF to justify the killing of innocent civilians, and she used it to make it into something so powerful and touching, that couldn’t be ignored. It is decisive and conclusive that there is no chance the IDF did edit and doctor that video in good faith or by accident. It was purposeful, to cut this interview after two seconds of what she says, in order to falsify her own words. If the IDF—or had they just lengthened the clip by one second, one more word, the whole story would have been unraveled.

But the problem is that, instead, they first murder an unarmed, clearly marked paramedic with precision weaponry, then they claim that it was an accident, and finally they claim that even accidents are directed by God to occur only to bad people, so the victim’s death is justified. It appears that under no circumstance whatsoever would Israel acknowledge the Palestinians’ suffering. We are never allowed to be seen as victims. It is as if Israel cannot tolerate another story of dispossession and misery to exist alongside it, so intolerance is constantly reinforced through the Israeli forces’ hostilities toward the Gazan civilian population and now the deliberate desecration of their sacred memories. The least the IDF could have done in that incident is to show remorse, to say that “We were wrong for the execution of an innocent female paramedic.” But sometimes there is enough honor in losing a battle than snatching a defeating and false victory. Instead, from the first moment, as you have seen, the IDF invested disproportionate time and effort to contextualize and find a pretext for this horrendous war crime than to hold the perpetrators accountable.

The problem is that, as always, the calamities visited upon the Palestinians are either denied, ridiculed or sometimes even cheered and applauded. There is always an internal investigation to be opened, a relief from blame. And this investigation is either never concluded, as in the case of the young martyr, 14-year-old protester Mohammed Ayoub, who died through the protest, or the findings of these reports are rather more appalling than the incident itself. One of the findings is that it never happened, just plain and simple, some IDF reports say, as in the case of Ahed Tamimi’s cousin Mohammed. His medical record, his X-ray, eyewitnesses, everybody confirms that his head was shattered by Israeli live bullets directed towards him. But according to the IDF, he fell off his bike, it never happened.

AMY GOODMAN: Muhammad, I want to turn to that story for a moment, on Wednesday the Palestinian Information Ministry saying Israeli forces shot dead the 21-year-old Palestinian Ezz El-Deen al-Tamimi in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. He was a member of the prominent Tamimi family, which is well known for its resistance to the Israeli occupation. This is Mahmoud al-Tamami, a relative of the young man who was killed, Ezz El-Deen.

MAHMOUD AL-TAMIMI: [transalted] Israeli occupation forces raided a site near the gas station. When he ran away, they identified him and shot him directly with live ammunition, three bullets in his neck and chest. Then they beat him, and he was bleeding, before they moved his body to a military vehicle, where he was left for a long time before being pronounced dead.

AMY GOODMAN: Another member of the Tamimi family, 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, remains imprisoned on charges of slapping an Israeli soldier in a video that went viral. Earlier this week, a parole board rejected her appeal for an early release. She has really become a global face of the resistance to occupation. Muhammad Shehada, if you’d continue with—I mean, we’re not just talking about—I mean, what we’re talking about here, over 120 Palestinians killed since March 30th, since the nonviolent March of Return. Razan, a female paramedic—paramedics and medical people have been hit so hard. I wanted to go back to an excerpt of an interview we did a few weeks ago. This was the day after the U.S. moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. And I think the Israeli military killed more than 60 Palestinians in Gaza that day. I want to turn to Tarek Loubani. He’s a Canadian emergency room doctor who went to Gaza to help wounded Palestinians. This is an excerpt of what he had to say. He was shot by Israeli sniper in both legs.

DR. TAREK LOUBANI: I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know what orders they received or what was in their heads, so I can’t tell you if we were deliberately targeted. What I can tell you is the things that I do know. In the six weeks of the march, there were no paramedic casualties. And in one day, 19 paramedics—18 wounded plus one killed—and myself were all injured, so—or were all shot with live ammunition. We were all—Musa was actually in a rescue at the time, but everybody else I’ve talked to was like me. We were away during a lull, without smoke, without any chaos at all, and we were targeted—and we were, rather, hit by live ammunition, most of us in the lower limbs. So, it’s very, very hard to believe that the Israelis who shot me and the Israelis who shot my other colleagues—just from our medical crew, four of us were shot, including Musa Abuhassanin, who passed away. It’s very hard to believe that they didn’t know who we were, they didn’t know what we were doing, and that they were aiming at anything else.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Dr. Tarek Loubani. I mean, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, spoke out about this. He was shot in both legs. And the man he just mentioned, the paramedic, Musa, who went to save him, was shot dead an hour later. Muhammad Shehada, if you can continue to talk about the coverage of what has taken place in Gaza and also what is happening today as we speak? Thousands are protesting in Gaza.

MUHAMMAD SHEHADA: Well, as I said, the coverage of the Gazan protest or actual particular incidents, like Razan, concludes three different dehumanizing and equally appalling indications. One is that it never happened. There is the unarguably racist, dehumanizing and hideous term “Pallywood,” that is coined and going viral to imply that the entire Palestinian population are consistently conniving and contriving staged major lies to defame Israel and exert an understandable anger or hatred, as they call it, of its illegal occupation and criminal blockade. The absurdity of this horrendous term dishonors only its authors and advocates.

But the problem—the other conclusion is that it wasn’t us. As you have seen in the case of the double amputee Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, the IDF concluded that the bullet that landed in his forehead was not coming from their own ammunition. Another racist term is coined here to describe Ibrahim’s death as “self-inflicted suffering.” The entire population of Palestine are perceived as masochistics who find joy in getting killed, maimed or crippled by the IDF, and whose main goal is, of course, to make their wish come true, without a second thought. The Israeli intelligence apparently managed to dig into Ibrahim’s heart and to conclude his intentions, that his death was entirely self-inflicted, it was his own fault, because he was, quote, “an agitator who wanted to die as a martyr.” And they, indeed, purposely overlook the fact that even if Ibrahim for once in his life contemplated death as a relief from the insufferable misery that he endured, it was mainly because the IDF first shot his legs, both of them, stole his legs and stole his life, because Israel’s blockade turned his life into unbearable hell. He spent his golden years crawling on the floors begging for bare-bones subsistence.

The third conclusion, which is what we are now seeing in Razan’s case and in the case of the Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, is that it was an accident. And it comes from a deep and evident wishful thinking that if you presume the IDF to be the most moral army in the world, you can never conclude that they did this on purpose. By no means, the most moral army in the world would do a such thing. The IDF stated, at the beginning of the protest, that it knows where every bullet shot at the protest landed, maybe except for the ones that—when it’s convenient for them to claim otherwise, like in the particular case of Razan. You see that they say first that she was shot by accident: The bullet apparently was shot in the air and bounced back and accurately shattered her heart. And even incidents that happen by accident, according to the IDF definition, only happen to bad people, as they call them. So the IDF, instead of investigating the actual incident or the accident, seem to spend great time and effort trying to prove an alleged affiliation between the victims and dehumanizing categories that would justify their killing. And this ought to be—

Chrissie R (9)
Saturday June 9, 2018, 12:09 pm
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