We are neither more nor less resilient and steadfast than any other human people in this world. We too feel pain and suffering. We too have a breaking point.
We Gazans are caught between a rock and an unlivable, uninhabitable place, where the water we drink and the soil in which we plant are poisoning us and our children. Our air, land and sea are completely sealed off by Israel and Egypt’s military might. We Gazans endure humanitarian disaster, generation after generation, and are denied even the most basic right to escape a slow death. We are two million civilian prisoners, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death.
On June 1, 21-year-old volunteer paramedic Razan al-Najjar was shot dead at the Gaza protests while rescuing injured protestors near the separation fence.
Anyone with the smallest modicum of moral decency should be shattered, devastated and overwhelmed by her death, just as they should be devastated by the horrendous improvised projectile that hit a kindergarten in Israel. Both incidents deserve unequivocal condemnation, at the very least, though only one resulted in death (thank God, none of the children were hurt).
But al-Najjar’s murder shows us something else, something horrific that transcends the border shootings. For the systematic dehumanization of the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, happens not only at the hands of the Israeli guns and policies but in the media afterwards, in the framing by Israel’s supporters.
When an IDF soldier killed al-Najjar, she was fighting against the inhumanity of life in Gaza by saving the lives of injured Palestinians who were protesting the blockade, while also fighting for the world and her own society to recognize her courage, hard work and strength. “In our society women are often judged,” she told a reporter during an interview at a Gaza protest camp last month, “But society has to accept us. If they don’t want to accept us by choice, they will be forced to accept us because we have more strength than any man.”