17-year-old Sajid Muzher, a volunteer medic, was killed this week when the Israeli army raided the Dheisheh refugee camp in the Palestinian West Bank. He was shot in the stomach, and later died at the Beit Jala Hospital in the West Bank, according to Al Jazeera. The Times of Israel reports that three other people were injured in the raid on the camp, as well as that three others were arrested in the raid. Muzher was reportedly treating injured protesters in the refugee camp, and was wearing a brightly coloured high-visibility medic’s vest when he was shot by Israeli security forces.
This death was met by condemnation and mourning from the Palestinian health ministry and the World Health Organization, which defended the right of medical workers to operate and decried the indiscriminate violence on the part of the Israeli military. “The killing by the Occupation of the volunteer paramedic with live bullets in the stomach is a war crime,” Palestinian health minister Jawad Awad said in a statement, referring to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which is illegal under international law. Ahmed Gharib, a fellow volunteer medic, said he was next to Muzher when he was shot, describing the scene: “There were clashes, people were throwing stones, and four had been wounded. He ran to help someone and got shot.” The Palestinian Medical Relief Society, which Muzher worked for, confirmed that he was shot while attempting to aid someone else injured by the Israeli fire. The Israeli army did not respond to reports of the attack, but described protestors throwing “blocks and firebombs” and stated that their troops “responded with riot dispersal means” to the clashes.
While such clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli army are common, they must not be normalized. Palestinians, living under a decades-long illegal occupation, often resist the Israeli army’s entrance into villages and refugee camps by throwing rocks, which the Israeli army then uses to justify their troops’ usage of fatal force against often unarmed Palestinian villagers or camp residents. Palestinian resistance to the entry of Israeli troops is inevitable, considering the frequently violent nature of such raids and the predatory history of the entire Israeli occupation, and yet the Israeli army defends its usage of lethal force, firing automatic rifles on protestors armed with rocks, as necessary to defend itself.
This narrative is common within the occupation, Palestinians armed with rocks and sticks killed by Israeli soldiers with heavy military arms. Such a situation, where a teenager seeking to provide medical care, for those protesting against raids in the camps they have been forced to resettle in, is killed, is a disgusting injustice on so many levels. The right to adequate medical care, particularly when one is already living in a refugee situation after being forcibly displaced from their homes, is a basic human right, and the Israeli army’s practice of firing on Palestinian crowds, while always unacceptable, is particularly horrific in light of this most recent tragedy.