A Gaza Paramedic’s Death Leaves Family and Friends Grief-stricken
A paramedic dies after being wounded in May at the Great March of Return in the never-ending conflict between Gazans and Israelis.
At the home of the al-Judeili family in the central Gaza Strip refugee camp of Albiuraij, family members, friends and neighbors mourned the loss of Mohammed Subhi al-Judeili, a 35-year-old father of four children and a long-time paramedic.
Al-Judeili died in June at a West Bank-based Palestinian hospital of wounds he sustained a month ago while providing first aid along the northern Israel-Gaza border lines during a Palestinian anti-occupation protest, mainly in the Abu Safiya area. He was shot and wounded in the nose with a rubber-coated steel bullet.
“A few days before he was transferred to the Alahly, or national hospital of Hebron in the West Bank, al-Judeili purchased several toys for his children, nieces and nephews, ahead of the Alfitr (Breakfast Feast) Eid. He also kept in contact with all the other paramedics with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza. By then, I felt that something was going to happen,” Mohammed’s mother, Kifaya al-Judeili, told Citizen Truth, while she was embracing her late son’s children at the family’s home in the Albiuraij refugee camp in the center of the Gaza Strip.
Al-Judeili’s grieving mother spoke proudly of her son. She said that he was kind and humorous and was always smiling.
“Every time he goes to work, he turns to me to say good morning and check on me. He always smiled and appeared cheerful. Mohammed was like a light, not only for me but also for the other family members. I recall that every year, mainly on April 1, he comes over to tell a lie, marking the April Lie traditional day. He wanted to make the family laugh,” the 70-year-old mother said as she cried.
Loving Father and Son
Al-Judeili’s son and daughter, 10-year-old Adel and eight-year-old Rama, were listening attentively and sadly to their grandmother, Kifaya, while neighbors and friends, were paying condolences to the al-Judeili family.
“My father is a martyr, and I chanted in his funeral procession, ‘Mohammed is a hero.’ I am extremely sad about his death, I am extremely sad. My dad was very kind and used to let me accompany him when he drove around town,” Adel, told Citizen Truth at his family home. Adel’s participation in the funeral procession appeared widely on local media outlets.
Rama, al-Judeili’s eight-year-old daughter spoke of the last night her father spent with his family, before his health deteriorated. “He was cooling down hot tea for us. Suddenly, I heard my mother shouting loudly,” Rama told Citizen Truth.
Al-Judeili’s father, Subhi al-Judeili, is a 74-year-old refugee from the historical Palestinian village of Herbiya. The father appeared accepting and patient about his son’s death, while he welcomed mourners to the family’s home.
“What can I say? I can only say that may God accept him as a martyr. Mohammed was such a good son, and he never made any kind of trouble for me or to the family. He ran a simple, tranquil life and kept focused on the work he loved so much,” Subhi al-Judeili told Citizen Truth.
Waleed al-Judeili, the 43-year-old brother of the slain man, echoed his father’s description of his brother. “Mohammed was such a tranquil brother and used to listen carefully to others to the extent that he sometimes asked me for advice.”
Remembered by Friends
Mahmoud Alserhy, close friend and colleague of Mohammed al-Judeili and a long-time paramedic working with the Gaza-based non-governmental Palestinian Red Crescent Society, spoke with sadness to Citizen Truth, as he and others sympathized with and gave support to the al-Judeili family.
“I remember very well how caring and sharing Mohammed was. He was such a goodhearted person, who was never upset with anyone. I remember well how cheerful he was. After anyone quarreled at work, Mohammed always initiated the peace-making with some food or a picnic. He always volunteered, supporting and sympathizing with others.”
Speaking about al-Judeili’s work, Alserhy said, “Mohammed was always very brave doing his work. In 2014 when Israel waged out a major military attack on Gaza (following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas members), Mohammed was serving in Gaza City’s suburb of Alzaytoun. By then, an Israeli air attack hit the Ali mosque area. He drove the ambulance right away and began carrying wounded residents. Afterwards, other paramedic crews headed for the area.”
Other Paramedics Also Lost
Al-Judeili is not the first Gazan paramedic to lose his life. Razan al-Najjar, a 20-year-old volunteer paramedic, was shot last year when she was helping rescue wounded Palestinians along the eastern borders of Gaza during the Great March of Return. Sabreen al-Najjar, Razan’s mother, told Citizen Truth that her daughter was very active, volunteering first aid to wounded Palestinians, along the borders between Gaza and Israel.
Responding to Israeli claims that Razan’s own video on social media, shortly before Razan was shot and killed, was evidence the young woman was acting as a defense shield for the border protesters, her mother told Citizen Truth, “I would like to tell you that more than once during her first aid activities on the borderlines, Razan was exposed to threats by the Israeli army. Razan used to tell me that an Israeli soldier on the borderline pointed his gun at her and ordered her to leave the place immediately, as she was rescuing wounded ones.” Sabreen also said that her daughter became the icon of humanitarian action, as the story of her death went viral on many international media outlets.
Citizen Truth spoke to paramedics working in the field and learned that despite the fact that paramedics’ work is purely medical and humanitarian, many paramedics continue to be exposed to danger while aiding border protesters. Alserhy recalled some of those dangers. “About four months ago, while I was serving in the Abu Safiya area, northeast of Gaza Strip, a protester, who was very close to me, was shot by an Israeli. I was able to evacuate him to the ambulance. Imagine if I was the one who was shot.”
Another volunteer paramedic with the Gaza-based government-run hospitals, Fadi Abu Mansour, a 28-year-old father of one baby girl, told Citizen Truth that over the past year of the Great March of Return, he has been exposed to a series of risky situations, due to the intensity of Israeli military reaction to the border protests. “All our works have been frightening. The most risky situation was when the U.S. moved its embassy to…East Jerusalem,” Fadi told Citizen Truth.
Since March 2018 the Israeli army has killed four Gaza paramedics serving on the borderline within the Great March of Return. The army’s fire, including live ammunition, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, has also injured more than 200 other paramedics, according to a Gaza-based source. The same source suggests that the total number of those killed by the Israeli military during the Great March of Return is 317, while the number of those wounded is nearly 30,000, about 140 of whom have had their limbs amputated.
Organizers of the Great March of Return say their border protests assert the Palestinian people’s right of return – based on United Nations resolution 194, which says the refugees must live at peace with their neighbors or be compensated for their loss – as well as on their demand to lift a 12-year-long Israeli blockade of the coastal territory.