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Tom Engelhardt 290

June 12, 2018

Tomgram: Shammalah and Marlowe, The Return of the Women of Gaza

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 claimedthat “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. Tom
The Great Return March and the Women of Gaza
Why Palestine’s Feminists are Fighting on Two Fronts
By Fadi Abu Shammalah and Jen Marlowe
“I am here because I heard my town call me, and ask me to maintain my honor.” Fifty-seven-year-old Um Khalid Abu Mosa spoke in a strong, gravelly voice as she sat on the desert sand, a white tent protecting her from the blazing sun. “The land,” she says with determination, “is honor and dignity.”
She was near the southern Gaza Strip town of Khuza’a, the heavily fortified barrier with Israel in plain sight and well-armed Israeli soldiers just a few hundred meters away. Abu Mosa’s left arm was wrapped in a sling fashioned from a black-and-white-checkered kuffiyeh, or scarf, and a Palestinian flag. Israeli soldiers had shot her in the shoulder with live ammunition on March 30th as she approached the barrier to plant a Palestinian flag in a mound of earth. The bullet is still lodged in her collarbone. Three weeks later, however, she’s back at the Great Return March, a series of protests organized around five encampments stretching along a unilaterally imposed Israeli buffer zone on the 37-mile barrier between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
The Return March, which has just ended, was unique in recent history in Gaza for a number of reasons. Palestinians there are known for engaging in militant resistance against the Israeli occupation and also for the internal political split in their ranks between two dominant factions, Fatah and Hamas. Yet, in these weeks, the March has been characterized by a popular, predominantly nonviolent mobilization during which Gaza's fractured political parties have demonstrated a surprising degree of unity. And perhaps most noteworthy of all, women activists have played a visibly crucial role in the protests on a scale not seen for decades, possibly indicating what the future may look like when it comes to activism in the Gaza Strip.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.



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