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(The only question is whether the Israeli military has developed this
kind of propaganda technique reading Max Blumenthal's articles on the
White Helmets or vice versa.)
NY Times, June 9, 2018
Israeli Video Portrays Medic Killed in Gaza as Tool of Hamas
By Herbert Buchsbaum
The Israeli military published a brief video on Thursday aimed at
showing that a Palestinian medic killed by Israeli forces last week was
not the neutral health care worker she has been portrayed as.
The tightly edited video shows a woman identified as the medic, Rouzan
al-Najjar, throwing what appears to be a tear-gas canister. The video
does not appear to have been taken the day Ms. Najjar was killed, and
the canister does not appear to be aimed at anyone.
In a second scene, according to the video, Ms. Najjar tells an
interviewer, “I am here on the front line and I act as a human shield.”
Since she was killed at a protest at the Gaza-Israel border fence last
Friday, Ms. Najjar, who was 20, has become a powerful symbol of the
conflict there. Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza, has
portrayed her as a hero and an innocent victim of Israeli aggression.
Israel has been assailed by human rights groups for using excessive
force against the protesters, most of whom were unarmed. Since the
weekly protests began in March, according to Gaza health officials, 119
people have been killed by Israeli fire.
The United Nations Human Rights Council voted last Friday to censure
Israel for disproportionate use of force. On Saturday, a group of United
Nations agencies called the killing of Ms. Najjar, a “clearly
identified” medic, “particularly reprehensible.”
The Israeli Army has said that it has used live ammunition only as a
last resort in an effort to prevent the protesters, and any fighters
blended in their ranks, from breaching the fence and attacking Israelis
on the other side.
In its first substantive statement on Ms. Najjar’s death, the military
said Tuesday that it had been unintentional and that the military was
still investigating it.
The video Israel released Thursday did not try to make the case that Ms.
Najjar’s actions provided a justification for her shooting. Rather the
clip, published in English and Arabic, appeared to be part of the battle
over her story’s narrative and an effort to chip away at Ms. Najjar’s
image of fresh-faced innocence.
“This medic was incited by Hamas to give up her life for their goals,”
the text on the English-language version of the video says. “Hamas uses
paramedics as human shields.”
Questioned at a policy forum in London on Thursday, Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel defended the army’s use of live fire,
saying the military had tried using water cannons and tear gas but had
been unable to stop the protesters from attacking the fence.
“Nobody intentionally went out to kill anyone,” Mr. Netanyahu said,
accusing Hamas of trying to raise the body count for publicity purposes.
“I can tell you that Hamas, at a certain point, said, ‘Not enough people
are being killed,’” he said.
Hamas officials have blamed Israel for the deaths of the protesters, but
they have sought to exploit them to advance their cause.
Hamas officials have also released a video to portray their version of
Ms. Najjar’s story. That video, released Saturday, shows Ms. Najjar and
other medics walking toward the Israeli fence in white coats and with
their hands raised. A Gaza health official said the video was taken
shortly before Ms. Najjar was shot.
A similar public relations battle erupted after the death of an
8-month-old girl, Layla Ghandour, who died after having been exposed to
tear gas at the Gaza protest last month. The Hamas-run Gaza Health
Ministry said she had been killed by the tear gas.
The Israeli authorities and others pushed back, saying the child’s
pre-existing congenital heart disease may have contributed to her death.
The Gaza authorities eventually capitulated, removing the child’s name
from a list of people killed by Israeli troops.
The Israeli video released Thursday appears to be an excerpt from a
longer video produced by Al Mayadeen News, an Arabic satellite channel
based in Beirut, Lebanon.
In the longer video, the comment that the military translated as “I act
as a human shield” was part of a sentence in which Ms. Najjar said, “I’m
acting as a human rescue shield to protect the injured inside the
The Mayadeen interview suggests that Ms. Najjar may have been a more
complex person than either side is making her out to be. While she said
she saw her role as a health care worker, she also saw herself as part
of the protest.
“With all my strength, will and persistence, no matter what you do to
me, what dangers I’m subjected to, bullets, explosives or tear gas, I
will continue on my course and journey,” she said. “I will save all the
injured so that they can go back and defend their land, and take back
Yousur Al-Hlou and Irit Pazner Garshowitz contributed reporting.
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