Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East issued the following edited action alert on 6 January 2010:
On 1 January 2011, 36-year-old Palestinian Jawaher Abu Rahmah from the West Bank village of Bilin died at a hospital from the effects of tear gas inhalation suffered at a protest the previous day against Israel’s construction of a wall and settlements on Bilin’s land. Jawaher is only the most recent protester killed or seriously injured by tear gas fired by the Israeli military. For example, Jawaher’s brother Bassem was killed almost two years ago, and two US citizens, Tristan Anderson and Emily Henochowicz were injured in 2009-2010.
Much of Israel’s tear gas is provided by the US company Combined Systems Inc. (CSI) located in Jamestown, Pennsylvania. The letters CSI, or CTS, a CSI brand name, are marked on many of tear gas canisters that litter Palestinian villages after they protest. The Israeli military is using CSI’s tear gas as a weapon as it tries to crush the growing movement of unarmed protest against Israel’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. Even more disturbing, US taxpayers are paying for at least some of the tear gas that Israel is shooting at Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters. For example, in 2007 and 2008, the US State Department provided $1.85 million worth of “tear gasses and riot control agents” to Israel as part of the US’s $3 billion in annual military aid to Israel.
Act now by emailing executives at CSI, and at the companies that invest in CSI, the Carlyle Group and Point Lookout Capital, and tell them to stop providing their tear gas to the Israeli military, before more protesters are killed and maimed.
The Israeli military has a documented history of deliberately firing tear canisters directly at unarmed protesters, and of blanketing entire villages in clouds of tear gas whenever they hold protests against Israeli land seizure. Jawaher’s brother Bassem Abu Rahmah was killed in April 2009 when he was hit in the chest with an extended range CSI tear gas canister fired directly at him by an Israeli soldier, according to B’Tselem. In the villages of Bilin and Nilin alone, 18 persons have been directly hit by extended range CSI tear gas canisters. Bilin resident Khamis Abu Rahmah suffered a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage after being shot in the back of his head. An Israeli soldier shot California resident Tristan Anderson directly in the head with a high velocity tear gas canister in a March 2009 protest in Nilin, leaving Tristan partially handicapped and suffering slight cognitive damage. New York City college student Emily Henochowicz lost her left eye when an Israeli soldier shot her directly in the face with an aluminum tear gas canister at a May 2010 protest at the Qalandiya checkpoint.
And no one knows the long-term health impact for residents of villages like Bilin and Nilin, and their Israeli supporters, who have been blanketed in tear gas at least once a week over a period of years, each time they hold their weekly protests against Israel’s confiscation of their villages’ land for Israel’s wall and settlements.