Review: Gaza Fights for Freedom – a film by Abby Martin
Gaza Fights for Freedom tells the story of a young medic Razan al-Najjar who was killed in 2018 by a sniper during the Great March of Return by Palestinian refugees from Gaza. Razan is the first woman working as a medic during the slaughter of thousands of unarmed Palestinians by Israeli snipers. She carries on her work with pride telling her family of the events of each Friday where demonstrations are conducted near the razor wire fence erected by Israelis to prevent Palestinians from returning to their homelands.
This documentary film by Abby Martin challenges the myth that Hamas is the only group in Gaza behind the protests. It is a harrowing account by a medical team of how their colleague, Razan, was shot. Razan wanted to document the teams efforts on social media. Her supervisor was against it. Sadly it was her death that was documented on social media.
Lamenting Razan’s death, her father makes a moving plea for people worldwide to boycott Israel. He said: ‘No matter how small the boycott please do this to bring to account my daughters murderers and the killing of others whose only crime is to want to return to their homeland.’
Razan was a resident of the village of Khuza’a about 500m from the Green Line. In 2008 a western journalist, Bruno Stevens, one of the first to access Gaza, reported on bombing of her village: “What I can tell you is that many, many houses were shelled and that they used white phosphorus” and that “it appears to have been indiscriminate.”
The Israeli propaganda machine is on trial in this film. The Israeli lobby is arguing Hamas sponsored the marches to make martyrs of the people of Gaza solely for political reasons.
According to the film, Israeli snipers were authorised to shoot militants, and when that did not subdue the Friday protests, the soldiers targetted the Press, and then children, and finally, medics. All to no avail. The protests continue, their grievance: the violence of the occupation, remains.
According to Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, Israeli
snipers specifically targeted Razan al-Najjar.
On 1 June 2018 she was shot in the chest with a single bullet while trying to help wounded demonstrators near an fence that represents an arbitrary line arising out of an Israeli conflict with Egypt decades ago. International law does not recognize the boundary
Strangely the lethalshot has been the subject of much analysis by the New York Times. It concluded that a single bullet fired at the ground bounced up and hit three (3) medics, wounding two (2) and killing Razan al-Najjar by a direct hit in the middle of her chest. Abby Martin’s eyewitnesses say more than one shot was fired.
Regardless of their number, why were such powerful bullets employed by Israeli snipers? Why shoot children, journalists and medics?
The reality is that Israel has been unable to stop marches of return; the marchers were getting world-wide attention by the international media. Palestinian innovation on the ground meant that people in the firing line got swift medical treatment. Injured were removed from the field into a field clinic or to hospital with skilled medical practitioners. Israeli tacticians decided to up the ante. Firstly they shot children who were immediately proclaimed martyrs and the families compensated by Hamas. Then they shot the press, removing them from the field of protest. Social media meant that the protests were still getting coverage and support. Then snipers shot people with phones and crucially the medics, thus removing motivation for the protestors.
Without media exposure and to die in the field reduced the effectiveness of0 border protests. So the protestors removed the razor wire and released kites carrying Molotov cocktails to burn neighbouring agricultural land used by settlers. So Israeli military gave orders to shoot even more people and to hone in on the medics.
This latest savagery brought out even larger demonstrations requiring international condemnation and a military inquiry to exonerate the murderers. At least one sniper appears to be a British citizen … thus widening culpability to the UK government for allowing its nationals to take up arms on behalf of a foreign power, Israel.
Short-term defeat for the Palestinians, long term gain by joining the democratic rights struggle with local demands for jobs, clean water, an end to the economic blockade and the right of return; rights mandated by UN charter. The protests focussed on the right of return and the need to implement paragraph 11 of UN resolution 194.
In the NY Times video of the incident there are three snipers shown, two of whom have their rifles ready to fire. Why does the NY Times conclude there was only one shot?
Why is there no mention of the underlying cause of the conflict – the violent and illegal occupation of Palestine?
Nothing has been done by the international community to stop the spread of the occupation. Trump declared Al Quds (Jerusalem) Israel’s capital and encouraged further settlement on the West Bank.
In April, al-Najjar had told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces had shot directly at her more than once, warning her to stop tending to the wounded.
The film documents a number of war crimes committed by Israelis during the ‘Great March of Return’. Submissions were filed on behalf of Palestinian children unlawfully killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza,and their immediate family membersunder the Rome Statute. The victims asked for a positive ruling on jurisdiction of international criminal court in the Hague. In April 2020, Chief Prosecutor Bensounda responded stating “the Prosecution has carefully considered the observations of the participants, and remains of the view that the Court has jurisdiction over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Yet no action has been taken against Israel by the international criminal court.
Gaza Fights for Freedom was initially screened in Brisbane by Casey Davidson from Movements for Global Sustainability. After the screening she called on local community groups in solidarity with Palestine to indicate the work that they do.
Subsequently the film was screened by Justice for Palestine on 29 Nov 2020 the UN declared International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Phil Monsour sang three songs (one by Kev Carmody ?, Phil’s The Ghosts of Deir Yassin, Alice Wine’s Keep your eyes on the Prize (Hold On), the film was shown and there was some discussion afterwards. About 20 people were in attendance.
Community solidarity with Palestine in Brisbane
Wendy Turner from Australian Palestine Advocacy Network APAN outlined lobbying activities carried on by her group and the conferences that they organise. Manoli Orellana from Australian Solidarity with Latin America (ASLA) spoke about solidarity activities for Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, and Cuba in 2019. They intend to take up more actions in support of Latin America in 2020. A spokesperson from Just Peace spoke about their anti-war activites.
Ian Curr from Big Ride for Palestine – Australia said how he was moved by Razan’s father’s comment calling on people worldwide to support boycotts of Israel. He outlined the yearly ride from Brisbane to Byron Shire that has raised over $30,000 for APHEDA educational and agricultural projects in Palestine. APHEDA stands for Union Aid Abroad. The Big Ride supports Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against multinationals like Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard (HP) that support the occupation. There will be another Big Ride for Palestine in 2020 along with others in the UK and Gaza. 2020 is a crucial turning point for Palestinians as the Israeli government tries to evict people from the West Bank and replace them with settlers.
Gaza Fights for Freedom is available on Vimeo.
Directed, Written & Narrated by Abby Martin
Written & Produced by Mike Prysner
Lead Editor: Taylor Gill
Original Score: Anahedron (John Prysner)
Camera Operators: Asmaa Attia Hamad & Moaz Mousa
Field Producers: Abdulkareem Ajjour & Yousef Abd Al-Rahman Ghaben
Research Assistant: Tara Stone