Israel Attempts to Smear Razan al-Najjar, Palestinian Medic It Killed, Calling Her “No Angel”

ISRAEL’S ARMY RELEASED a deceptively edited video on Thursday, hoping to tarnish the image of Razan al-Najjar, a Palestinian paramedic killed by Israeli fire in Gaza last week.

According to witness testimony, al-Najjar, who was 21, was gunned down last Friday after she and other medics, walking with their hands up and wearing white vests, approached the perimeter that confines Palestinians to Gaza in order to treat a wounded protester.

Video released by the health ministry in Gaza, said to show al-Najjar and the others just before the Israelis opened fire, seemed to confirm that their hands were in the air as they advanced.

The fatal shooting of the young woman, who had spoken eloquently about her lifesaving role to a New York Times video journalist and on Lebanese television, has been a public relations disaster for Israel.

Killing al-Najjar, who clearly posed no threat to its soldiers, made it difficult for Israel’s army to argue that its snipers targeted only “rioters” in Gaza and did not fire indiscriminately at peaceful protesters, journalists, and medics.

In response to an international outcry over her death, the Israel Defense Forces said earlier this week that al-Najjar had been killed accidentally by a soldier aiming at someone else. Then, on Thursday, the army’s social media unit began a coordinated smear campaign against her, by falsely suggesting in a video that she had been engaged in rioting and had attended the protests to shield militants disguised as protesters.

As evidence of “rioting,” the military offered just 10 seconds of video, underpinned by music suitable for a horror movie, which showed a woman who was dressed like al-Najjar tossing away a tear gas canister fired at protesters by Israeli forces. If the woman was al-Najjar, the video only showed her participating in a ritual familiar to protesters around the world — tossing tear gas fired at them as far away as possible. The video also shows that she hurled the canister only a short distance, and it landed nowhere near any Israeli soldiers.

The second part of the video that supposedly excuses the killing of al-Najjar is half a sentence clipped from an interview she gave to the Lebanese broadcaster Al Mayadeen News, in which she had called her role as a protest medic being “a human shield to protect and save the injured on the front lines.” An Israeli military editor cut that sentence in half to make it seems as if al-Najjar had been caught admitting that she was only present to provide cover to militants.

Despite these obvious shortcomings, a version of the video was shared by Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, as an Arabic speaker, must have been aware that the medic’s comments had been taken out of context.

Joe Dyke of Agence France-Presse reported that Gendelman “denied that the editing of the video to remove the full context about serving injured people could be seen as political manipulation.” If al-Najjar acted as a human shield, Gendelman told AFP, that meant that she was “not a medic.”

The video was also shared by Netanyahu’s former spokesperson, Mark Regev, who is now Israel’s ambassador to Britain; Israel’s foreign ministry; and Maj. Avichay Adraee, an Arabic language spokesperson for the Israeli military, who claimed on Twitter that the video somehow proved that al-Najjar was “no angel.”

The smear campaign outraged Palestinian and Israeli observers who oppose Israel’s ongoing occupation and lying.

Michael Omer-Man, the editor-in-chief of Israel’s +972 Magazine, noted that Israel’s military has a track record when it comes to releasing heavily edited videos of questionable ethics.

In 2010, the Israeli army also released what appeared to be fake audio, intended to discredit the Turkish-led Gaza flotilla, of an activist supposedly saying to an Israeli officer over the radio, “Shut up, go back to Auschwitz,” and, “We’re helping Arabs go against the U.S. Don’t forget 9/11, guys.”

While such videos have failed to convince critics of Israel’s military, an Israeli public which overwhelmingly supports the use of force in Gaza might be more easily swayed. (A recent poll found that 62 percent of Jewish Israelis think their military has used the right amount of force in response to the protests in Gaza, where more than 3,500 Palestinian protesters have been shot and at least 120 have been killed. Another 28 percent of the Jewish Israeli public says the army has used too little force.)

“The IDF spokesperson published an edited video, comprised of clips that have no connection to each other nor to the day al-Najjar was killed, to justify the killing of the young paramedic, to prove that she was not simply an innocent nurse, and to present her as a terrorist or a potential terrorist,” Yael Marom observed in +972 Magazine.

“The video says: It was okay to kill her, she was an Arab,” he added. “And Israel’s mainstream outlets, to prove their patriotism and to boost their ratings, completely bought the IDF’s spin. They published the clip without questions or clarifications or warnings that it was not in any verified, and that it in no way justifies her killing. A broadcaster on one of Israel’s most-watched channels even said, without any proof of this in the video, that al-Najjar threw the tear gas canister ‘during a violent protest.'”

by Robert Mackey

Palestine | News, Murder, Razan al-Najjar, Israel | |