Made in USA Tear Gas Used In Egypt–What About Israel?

ABC News has reported on the use of US-made tear gas against protesters in Egypt. Great, it is important for Americans to know the use our aid to Egypt has been put to.

But it’s worth asking where ABC was when Israel has injured unarmed civilians with similar tear gas cannisters. Worse, in the case of Israel people have been killed because Israeli soldiers or border patrolmen have fired the cannisters directly at protesters, which is a violation of both IDF rules of engagement and of the proper procedures specified by manufacturers for thee use of these cannisters.

In April, 2009, Bassam Abu Rahmeh (whose sister, Jawaher recently died after inhaling tear gas at a protest) was killed under those circumstances. Another incident where American citizen Tristan Anderson was hit in the head and spent many months in a coma by a tear gas cannister was also scantily reported in the US and never investigated by any American agency.

Combined Tactical Systems, Inc. makes these tear gas cannisters. It’s an American corporation, but is obviously deeply involved with Israel. How can we know that? Well, this picture sure tells us something:

 

From Mondoweiss, American and Israeli flags flying outside CTS

 

I’m not knocking ABC; covering the use of the gas in Egypt is important. But isn’t it also time that we ask how our money is being used in Israel too? I support Israeli security and the US helping in this regard. But we shouldn’t be allowing our help to be perverted into use for violations of human rights. Ask the Abu Rahmehs and Tristan Anderson if that’s happening.

972 Magazine Exposes IDF Double-Talk on Death of Woman in Bi’lin

Earlier this week, the story broke that Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, the Palestinian woman who died after being injured by tear gas during a weekly protest against the Israeli security barrier in Bi’lin, had died as a result of poor medical care at the hospital in Ramallah.

Case closed, right? Not so fast.

Jawaher Abu Rahmeh

972 Magazine has been on top of this thing from the beginning. And their blogger, Yossi Gurvitz, noticed right off that the reports attributed the announcement of the conclusion of the IDF investigation to unnamed military sources. So, the intrepid Gurvitz called the IDF Spokesman, who immediately denied that any result of the investigation had been arrived at.

Hmmmm.

Weeks ago, the Central Command brass engaged a whole slew of right-wing Israeli bloggers to spread their initial version of Abu Rahmeh’s death. Now, these bloggers have been embarrassed and thrown under the proverbial bus as they passionately advocated the IDF story, which the IDF later contradicted. Jerry Haber, at the Magnes Zionist, reviews the various stories that the IDF has put out there. Three and counting so far.

Gurvitz describes the game that is being played. It’s worth your time to read it in full. But the short form is that the IDF, in an effort to manage the issue and to try to defuse yet another potential shock to their image is having the Spokesman give the official line, which is that the incident is being investigated, while Gen. Avi Mizrahi’s Central Command office is anonymously putting out one story after another to try to explain Jawaher’s death and why the IDF was not at fault.

There is, of course, a better way to deal with this, and that is for the IDF to obey the order of the Israeli High Court of Justice and move the barrier out of Bi’lin, where it serves to undermine, rather than enhance Israeli security and cuts off the people of Bi’lin from much of their town’s lands, which are needed for grazing and other purposes. But that’s not likely to happen as long as the IDF can thumb its nose at not only international law but even Israeli law with impunity.

Until that changes, we can at least count ourselves lucky that we have 972 and other hard-working Israelis to at least expose these shoddy tactics.

Coteret: Interview with Michael Sfard, lawyer for slain Palestinian, Jawaher Abu Rahme

Didi Remez of Coteret transcribed and translated the interview below from Israel’s IDF Radio. It is an interview of Michael Sfard, the prominent Israeli human rights lawyer who is representing the family of Jawaher Abu Rahme, who was killed on New Year’s Eve when the IDF flooded the town of Bil’in with tear gas during a protest against the Seperation Barrier there. It is worth noting that the barrier in Bil’in, which engenders weekly protests, was ordered moved by Israel’s High Court. The IDF has simply ignored the court’s order.

It’s also worth remembering that Jawaher’s brother, Bassam Abu Rahme, was also killed by Israeli forces in April, 2009 at another protest in Bil’in. Bassam was killed when a tear gas cannister was fired directly at him, in violation of legal use of such a weapon.

Jawaher Abu Rahme, another victim of the occupation

 

Interview with Michael Sfard

 

IDF Radio, January 4 2010 08:22 [recording here; interview begins at 00:33]

Niv Raskin: Now we turn to the IDF investigation on the death of protester Jawaher Abu Rahma. According to the IDF investigation, senior officers say it’s a kind of fabrication. The Bilin protester didn’t die of [tear] gas inhalation; she was a cancer patient. We want to talk about this issue with the family’s lawyer, Attorney Michael Sfard.

Attorney Michael Sfard: The IDF didn’t publish, its court journalists did.

Raskin: What do you mean?

Sfard: What I mean is that no IDF officer was willing to talk on-record. The IDF Spokesperson didn’t even put out a communiqué. Everything was done through journalists. They weren’t presented with even one document. I have never encountered such crazy fabricated blood libel.

Raskin: With your permission, let’s review the facts, at least as they were published. First, according to the reports, according to the investigation conducted by the IDF, there was no report of a wounded woman on Friday. According to those officers, at least, this casts doubt over whether she was at the protest at all. Continue reading

Death in Bil’in: End Soldiers’ Violence at West Bank Protests

31-year old Bassem Abu Rahmeh was killed in Bil’in on Friday. He was killed because an Israeli soldier fired a long-range tear gas canister at his abdomen, from a distance of a few yards.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) calls this the result of “unauthorized fire.” Fine. But the question is what will be done about it. The result of this instance of “unauthorized fire” was the death of a young Palestinian man. The result of the last

Bassem Abu Rahmeh after being hit by an Israeli tear gas cannister

Bassem Abu Rahmeh after being hit by an Israeli tear gas cannister

similar incident was a severe brain injury to an American citizen who remains unconscious.

The latter case, that of Tristan Anderson, remains under investigation and, to date, no IDF action in response has been announced.

I can’t help but be reminded of last summer’s incident, where a soldier, acting under the orders of his commander fired (albeit apparently reluctantly) at and wounded a bound and blindfolded Palestinian man. The IDF charged the soldier and his commander with “conduct unbecoming,” barely a slap on the wrist.

In terms of accountability, the first question regarding both of these incidents is whether arrests will be made in the first place. In general, the IDF is a bit more inclined to bringing charges against their soldiers than is the case with the police, whether they are dealing with their own people or with settlers. But even in the case of the army, the history is not very good. Continue reading