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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Mourning and anger over Palestinian medic killed by Israel

Razan Alnajjar was shot while tending to a wounded protester on Friday

Palestinian mourners chant angry slogans during the funeral of a volunteer paramedic Razan Najjar, 21, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, June 2, 2018. Najjar was killed by Israeli fire Friday during mass protests in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. Khalil Hamra / AP
Palestinian mourners chant angry slogans during the funeral of a volunteer paramedic Razan Najjar, 21, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, June 2, 2018. Najjar was killed by Israeli fire Friday during mass protests in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. Khalil Hamra / AP

Hundreds of mourners gathered in southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on Saturday for the funeral of Razan Alnajjar, the 21-year-old volunteer medic killed by an Israeli sniper a day earlier during Palestinian protests along the blockaded territory's border with Israel.

Razan was shot through the chest as she tried to help one of about 100 protesters wounded during Friday's protests, according to the Gaza health ministry and a fellow medic who was working with her.

"I asked her to not go further, but she refused and told me: 'I have to go help the wounded, I can't leave him there alone'," Nadia Alnajjar, 20, a fellow volunteer medic, told The National.

"She went and didn't come back."

Razan was the second medic among the 119 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during the border protests launched on March 30 to demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to homes they fled during the creation of Israel in 1948. More than 13,000 have been wounded.

"Razan used to come home every Friday with blood from the wounded on her clothes, telling me that each one of those wounded has a story. Now Razan became a story," said her mother, Sabreen Alnajjar, 43.

"She dreamed of becoming a doctor, now she can continue her dreams beside the people she used to treat," she said, sitting in a tiny room of their home as relatives and neighbours tried to console her.

The high death toll during the protests has drawn widespread condemnation of Israel for using excessive force against the protesters. There have been no Israeli casualties.

Israel says many of those killed were members of Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza, and militants trying to launch attacks under cover of the protests.

Following Razan's death, the UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov said on Twitter: "Medical workers are #NotATarget!

"#Israel needs to calibrate its use of force and Hamas need to prevent incidents at the fence. Escalation only costs more lives," he added.

The Israeli military said it was looking into Razan's death, in a statement released on Saturday as soldiers shot dead another Palestinian in the West Bank.

The army alleged that the 35-year-old man from Hebron was shot when he tried to run over a soldier and civilians with a tractor.

Razan was killed on the same day the United States, Israel's ally, vetoed a Kuwaiti-drafted UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israel's use of force against Palestinian civilians and called for an international force to protect them.

On Saturday, her body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag and her face was covered with the bloodied medical coat she was wearing when she was shot. Her work badge dangled from her bier as mourners carried her to the cemetery, just 50 metres from her home.

"What happened to Razan will not stop us from continuing our humanitarian mission, we are offering a volunteer work because we believe in our right," said Fatima Alnajjar, 28, who worked with Razan.

"We are asking the international community to protect us, so we can do our work safely."

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