Israeli army kills Palestinian nurse in Gaza border protest

Palestinian nurse Razan Al-Najar was killed by Israeli forces at the Gaza border. (Reuters)
Updated 02 June 2018

Israeli army kills Palestinian nurse in Gaza border protest

  • Razan Al-Najar’s death brought to 119 the number of Palestinians killed in weekly demonstrations launched on March 30 in the Gaza Strip.
  • Najar, a 21-year-old volunteer medic, was shot as she ran toward the fortified border fence, east of the south Gaza city of Khan Younis, in a bid to reach a casualty.

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Israeli forces killed a Palestinian nurse on Friday as she tried to help a wounded protester at the Gaza border, according to health officials and a witness, while Israel said militants had attacked its troops with gunfire and a grenade.
Razan Al-Najar’s death brought to 119 the number of Palestinians killed in weekly demonstrations launched on March 30 in the Gaza Strip, an enclave controlled by the Islamist group Hamas and long subject to grinding Israeli and Egyptian embargoes.
Najar, a 21-year-old volunteer medic, was shot as she ran toward the fortified border fence, east of the south Gaza city of Khan Younis, in a bid to reach a casualty, a witness said.
Wearing a white uniform, “she raised her hands high in a clear way, but Israeli soldiers fired and she was hit in the chest,” the witness, who requested anonymity, told Reuters.
An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment on Najar’s killing. Israeli officers have previously said that army snipers target only people posing a threat, but that the bullets can sometimes run through them or ricochet, hitting bystanders.
Gazan medical officials said at least 100 Palestinians were wounded by army gunfire during Friday’s mass demonstrations.
In a separate statement, the Israeli military said its troops had acted to disperse “thousands of rioters” at five locations.
It said that “an IDF (Israel Defense Forces) vehicle was fired upon and a suspect was identified crossing the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip and planting a grenade which exploded as he returned to the Strip.”
There have been no Israeli casualties during the border confrontations, but Israel has reported extensive damage to farmland from firebomb-bearing kites flown over from Gaza.
The surge in violence at the border crescendoed this week to the most intensive shelling exchanges between Israel and Hamas and another Palestinian armed faction since a 2014. But the violence, which caused no fatalities, was reined in with Egyptian cease-fire mediation.
In the protests, billed as the “Great March of Return,” Palestinians have been calling for the right to return to lands lost to Israel during the 1948 war of its creation. Israel calls them a ploy to breach its border and deflect scrutiny from Hamas’ governance problems.
Israel’s lethal response has drawn international censure.
Friday’s turnout of protesters was less than in previous weeks, but is expected to grow next week as Palestinians mark the anniversary of Israel’s capture of the Gaza Strip and West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 war.
Israel quit Gaza in 2005, but has elsewhere deepened settlements on occupied land. The demonstrations come at a time of growing frustration over the prospects for an independent Palestinian state or even a revival of peace talks, stalled since 2014.
At her house in Khan Younis, Najar’s mother collapsed in grief as she was handed her daughter’s blood-stained uniform.
A statement from Gaza’s Health Ministry mourned Najar as a “martyr.” Interviewed by Reuters interview in April, she said she would see the border protests through until their end.
“I am returning and not retreating,” Najar’s last Facebook post said. “Hit me with your bullets. I am not afraid.”


US honors head of France’s Arab World Institute

Updated 28 January 2020

US honors head of France’s Arab World Institute

  • Dr Jack Lang was recognized for promoting the Arab region and cross-cultural understanding
  • First recipient of the Global Cultural Leadership Award from the National Council on US-Arab Relations

WASHINGTON: Dr. Jack Lang, president of the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in Paris, on Monday received the inaugural Global Cultural Leadership Award from the National Council on US-Arab Relations.

The honor was recognition for his achievements in expanding knowledge of the Arab region and promoting cross-cultural understanding. It was presented to him at the French ambassador’s residence in Washington by the council’s Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony, board Chairman John Pratt, International Advisory Board member Leo A. Daly III, and Executive Vice President Patrick Mancino.

Lang and a delegation from the institute were in Washington for the opening of the IMA exhibition “Age Old Cities: A Virtual Journey from Palmyra to Mosul” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.

“What Monsieur Lang and the IMA have achieved in highlighting the rich history and culture of the Arab region is considerable,” said Anthony during the award presentation ceremony. “They have done much to showcase Arab contributions to knowledge and understanding that have benefited the world’s civilizations and humankind in general.

“Under Monsieur Lang’s leadership, the IMA has effectively pushed into new territories in storytelling and technology that help further illuminate the innumerable, extraordinary and myriad impacts that Arabs have had on humanity’s endless quest for modernization and development.”

Lang was appointed IMA president by French President Francois Hollande in 2013. He was previously a National Assembly member for more than two decades, including stints as France’s minister of culture and minister of education. He was also mayor of the city of Blois from 1989 to 2000, and served as a special adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

The IMA, which is located on the banks of the Seine in Paris, opened in 1987 as a center dedicated to the promotion of Arab civilization, knowledge and art. It contains unique collections and hosts special touring exhibitions. These include “AlUla: Wonder of Arabia,” showcasing Saudi Arabia’s Nabataean archaeological treasure, the dates for which were recently extended after it proved to be incredibly popular.

The National Council on US-Arab Relations was founded in 1983 as a nonprofit, nongovernmental, educational organization. It is dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation of the extraordinary benefits the United States has derived from its special relationships with countries in the Arab region, and vice versa. Anthony and the council are working on plans for an Arab Cultural Institute, similar to the IMA, in Washington.