Israeli army says it did not target Gaza medic

Jerusalem: The Israeli army on Tuesday said its troops did not deliberately shoot a young Palestinian medical volunteer killed last week in violence on the Gaza border.

Razan al-Najjar, 21, was fatally shot in the chest on Friday near the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis.

The Palestinian Medical Relief Society said she was hit “as she was attempting to provide first aid to an injured protester”, adding that three other first responders were also hit by live fire on the same day. An army statement in English said initial findings of its inquiry revealed “that a small number of bullets were fired during the incident, and that no shots were deliberately or directly aimed towards her.”

It did elaborate on how she may have been killed, but said investigations were continuing and conclusions would be passed to the Military Advocate General’s department.

Following Najjar’s death, the UN envoy for the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, said in a tweet that “Medical workers are #NotATarget!” and that “Israel needs to calibrate its use of force and Hamas need to prevent incidents at the fence.”

Gazans have since March 30 been holding border protests demanding the return of Palestinians to land they fled or were expelled from during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation, now inside the Jewish state.

The demonstrations are accompanied by smaller clashes as youths hurl stones at Israeli soldiers and attempt to breach the border fence, at times laying explosive devices on the fence or throwing grenades.

At least 125 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire on the border since March 30.

No Israelis have been killed.

On Tuesday there was relatively muted protest with about 100 demonstrators gathering in the northern Gaza Strip near the Erez border crossing into Israel, AFP correspondents said.

There were minor clashes in Khan Yunis and central Gaza involving dozens of protesters.

In Bureij in central Gaza, young men attached flaming plastic containers to kites hoping to set crops alight on the other side of the frontier.

The protests had been called Tuesday to coincide with the 51st anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War when Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza.

Organisers said larger numbers were now expected Friday, which coincides with Israel’s 1967 capture of Palestinian east Jerusalem.

Palestinians today claim the sector as the capital of their future state.

Israel accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of controlling the protests and seeking to use them as cover to carry out attacks.