Editor’s Note: The following is a press release from the Palestine Advocacy Project. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.
Palestine Advocacy Project is relaunching a billboard ad campaign honoring the heroism and self-sacrifice of Palestinian medics who put their lives on the line to rescue and treat injured protesters in Gaza’s ongoing Great March of Return demonstrations. The billboard features beloved Palestinian martyr Razan al-Najjar, 21, a young nurse/paramedic who sacrificed her life caring for wounded demonstrators. Razan was targeted and killed by an Israeli sniper on June 1, 2018, wearing her white nurse’s coat with hands raised to show that she was unarmed. Thus far, almost 120 medics have been shot by Israeli snipers while attempting to rescue and provide aid to the thousands of demonstrators severely injured, maimed or killed by Israel while protesting for their rights. Palestine Advocacy Project’s current billboard displays Razan’s photograph with the text, “Honoring the First Responders of Gaza” and “Saving Lives Under Israeli Fire”.
The relaunch, located in Bridgeport Ct on I-95 near Exit 25, on March 4, came nearly three months after its previous run was cut short when the billboard company received a series of alarming calls and emails accusing its staff of being terrorists and anti-Semites — this despite the fact that the Boston ad is clearly dedicated to humanitarian ideals, and makes no reference to Judaism. Richard Colbath-Hess, founder of the Palestine Advocacy Project, remarked at the time, “Apparently, there cannot be Palestinian heroes without some advocates of Israel feeling attacked.”
Colbath-Hess explains that the purpose of the billboard is to raise awareness about “the courage and fortitude of Razan and other aid workers who risk their lives to support Gazans suffering under the disastrous effects of the U.S.-backed blockade.”
The United States government enables Israel’s blockade and military assaults by providing over $3.8 billion annually in military aid. Palestine Legal, an organization that protects the civil and constitutional rights of people in the U.S. who speak out for Palestinian freedom, reports “the Israeli state and its proxy organizations in the U.S. are investing heavily in punitive measures to intimidate and chill the free speech of those who wish to express criticism of Israeli policies.”
The ongoing Great March of Return campaign began on March 30, 2018. Its aim is to end the ongoing siege and blockade of Gaza and resulting inhumane conditions under which its residents are forced to live, and to restore Gazans’ right to return to the homes they or their forebears were forced to flee in 1948. Although the vast majority of protesters are unarmed, the Israeli Defense Forces continue to fire indiscriminately on peaceable civilians in the besieged coastal enclave. As of October 1, 2018, Israeli forces have killed at least 190 Palestinians and wounded more than 21,000, according to health officials in Gaza. The victims include children, the elderly, and the disabled, as well as journalists and medics like Razan.
Gazans live in some of the worst humanitarian conditions in the world, with the majority of the region’s children suffering malnutrition and nearly half of all adults without reliable access to food. Gaza’s residents survive on a 97% contaminated water supply and receive only four hours of electricity per day. The United Nations has warned that the area could become “uninhabitable” by 2020 as a result of Israel’s blockade and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. Gaza is often referred to as the world’s largest open-air prison.
Read more about the Gaza campaign here.