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Demonstrators 'return' tear gas canisters to US ambassador's home

Some of the Arrested in a Tel Aviv Courthouse. Picture Credit: Oren Ziv/activestills.org

Some of the Arrested in a Tel Aviv Courthouse. Picture Credit: Oren Ziv/activestills.org

Israeli activists protesting the killing of Bil’in’s Jawaher Abu Rahmah ‘returned’ spent tear gas canisters to the residence of the American ambassador to Israel late Saturday evening. Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital on Friday after inhaling massive amounts of tear-gas during the weekly protest in Bil’in, and died of poisoning Saturday morning. The tear gas used by the Israeli forces in Bil’in is manufactured by Combined Systems Inc.; a United States company based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania. This is the first protest where empty tear gas canisters have been returned to an ambassador’s home.

Arrested Activists in a Tel Aviv Courtroom 2.1.10 Picture Credit: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Arrested Activists in a Tel Aviv Courtroom 2.1.10 Picture Credit: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Approximately 25 five Israeli protesters gathered in front of the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Israel, James B. Cunningham, around 1am local time. The protesters ‘returned’ loads of spent tear gas canisters collected in the West Bank village of Bil’in. The demonstrators also made noise throughout the ambassador’s neighborhood, informing residents of how American military aid to Israel is being used to kill unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators in the West Bank. They chanted, “one, two, three, four stop the occupation stop the war. Five, six, seven, eight end the funding (US) end the hate.” This action is one of the first by Israeli activists demanding accountability of a foreign government. Instead of targeting the Israeli public, activists did a symbolic act aimed at the United States. This could signal the future of targeted BDS-style actions (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) actions by Israelis who witness the destruction of US military aid in the West Bank.

Arrested Activists in a Tel Aviv Courtroom 2.1.10 Picture Credit: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Arrested Activists in a Tel Aviv Courtroom 2.1.10 Picture Credit: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Five demonstrators were arrested in the action and are currently being held in detention. It is unclear when they will be released and on what charges. The action in front of the ambassador’s residence completed a day of protest throughout Israel and the West Bank stemming from Abu Rahmah’s death. On Saturday evening, hundreds demonstrated opposite the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. Protesters manged to block Kaplan street, a main artery, for over one hour. Eight people were arrested, including a former Knesset member from the left wing Meretz Party, Mossi Raz.

Arrested Activists in a Tel Aviv Courtroom 2.1.10 Picture Credit: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Arrested Activists in a Tel Aviv Courtroom 2.1.10 Picture Credit: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

UPDATE 10:47: The arrest of the demonstrators has been extended for 48 hours (until Tuesday). They have been charged with illegal demonstration, resisting arrest (because they locked up arms in order to be arrested together) and tossing spent tear gas canisters over the fence of the US ambassador’s house. The court will convene again on Tuesday in order to see if any more charges will be filed.

UPDATE 11:40: The police now claim that some of the tear gas canisters were still ‘live’ and thus, the activists are being charged with attacking the US Ambassador’s home. Among the demonstrators arrested are those who were simply in the area and not involved in any protest. There is an appeal being filed right now.

For more coverage of the death of Jahawer Abu Rahmah:

1,000 protest in Bil’in

Female protestor killed by Israeli forces in Bil’in

Images: Funeral of Jawaher Abu Rahmah

Ynet reporter slurs non-violent movement

In saying ‘I didn’t know,’ Israelis enable army’s killing of Palestinians

Hundreds rally in Tel Aviv to postpone Bil’in woman’s death

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    1. [...] Joseph Dana reports: Israeli activists protesting the killing of Bil’in’s Jawaher Abu Rahmah ‘returned’ spent tear gas canisters to the residence of the American ambassador to Israel late Saturday evening. Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital yesterday after inhaling massive amounts of tear-gas during the weekly protest in Bil’in, and died of poisoning this morning. The tear gas used by the Israeli forces in Bil’in is manufactured by Combined Systems Inc.; a United States company based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania. This is the first protest where empty tear gas canisters have been returned to an ambassador’s home. [...]

      Reply to Comment
    2. Hello Joseph, I watched the footage of the Friday 31 December demonstration in Bil’in, during which Jawaher Abu Rahmah was overcome by ‘tear gas’. Tragically she later died.
      I have been in Bil’in several times to join the Friday demonstration of the villagers. I experienced the exposure to tear gas myself. I am a primary care physician and have been interested since long in the use of tear gas for the purpose of ‘riot control’ and the health effects it has on a person.
      What struck me always in Bil’in is the vast area, that becomes saturated with ‘tear gas’. This makes it very difficult to breathe and to reach areas with uncontaminated air. That is the case for ‘normal’ persons, but especially so for people with conditions like asthma.
      On one occasion I attended a Friday demonstration with my colleague from Iceland Dr Hauksson. He has mild asthma. He was overcome by tear gas and collapsed, frothing at the mouth and vomiting.
      The cloud of gas I saw on the footage of the 31 December demonstration was much larger than normal. This had fatal consequences for Jawaher. I am convinced that her death is the result of criminal use of tear gas, which is in total violation of the rules that ensure proper use of ‘tear gas’ for crowd control.
      These rules include the following:
      one always needs to enable demonstrators to be able to escape to clean air. Creating a vast area with high concentrations of tear gas, like the Israeli soldiers do, violates that principle.
      Secondly you never shoot projectiles directly at people. This rule is also routinely violated. The use of extended range projectiles, which fly very fast and are hardly visible, creates lethal danger. It was as a result of an extended range projectile that Jawaher’s brother Basem Abu Rahmeh was mortally wounded by a direct hit on the chest. And now – what tragedy – his sister is killed after inhaling vast amounts of teargas.
      Because she was not able to escape the cloud she collapsed. Her airways, which were already quite vulnerable to irritants because of her asthma conditions, subsequently swelled up, making it impossible for her to breathe or exchange oxygen and CO2. I suspect that she died of pulmonary oedema causing fatal hypoxia.
      Another thing one can conclude from the footage is that the very dangerous extended range projectiles are still widely used.
      This all adds up to a general picture of criminally careless use of riot control agents, which in fact become chemical warfare agents.
      I have researched the use of chemical agents for the purpose of crowd control in the past decades. CN and CS are called irritants or euphemistically ‘tear gas’, but the difference with an agent of chemical warfare is only marginal. If one uses choking agents like chlorine gas or mustard gas – used in WWI – at a sufficiently low concentration one can use it as a crowd control agent. In the same way if you use a ‘tear gas’ agent like CS or CN at high enough concentrations it becomes a lethal chemical warfare agent. This is the way the Israeli army is often using ‘tear gas’.
      During the first Intifada in 1987/88 I researched the use of riot control agents by the Israeli army in the Occupied Territories. This after some deaths were reported caused by tear gas. I published this study under the name “More than Tear Gas. Harassing agents and their use in the Israeli Occupied Territories” (1988)
      I found that between December 1987 and August 1988 more than 60 people died as a result of criminal use of tear gas by the Israeli army (including throwing tear gas canisters in houses and other confined spaces causing lethal concentrations). The majority of them were either children or older people with vulnerable airways or pre-existent respiratory problems. Also at least 12 pregnant women aborted after being exposed to large concentrations of tear gas.
      The general picture was of criminally careless and negligent use of gas.
      After an increasing wave of protests the army silently curbed the excesses, but in the past year there is a recurrence of this criminal use of riot control agents.
      Not long ago another Palestinian died after inhaling large amounts of tear gas and we have a lot of reports of very serious injuries caused by the kinetic energy of the projectiles.
      In conclusion: the Israeli army uses crowd control agents in a criminal way, amounting to war crimes. We must hold Israel and its soldiers to account in the appropriate courts of law (including the international criminal court in The Hague, Netherlands).
      Many regards,
      Ben Alofs, primary care physician.
      Bangor, UK

      Reply to Comment
    3. [...] Raz. Highlighting American implication in the suppression of West Bank protests, Israeli activists “returned” spent tear gas canisters from Bil’in to the home of U.S. Ambassador James B. Cunningham. Tear gas canisters used by the IDF in [...]

      Reply to Comment
    4. it is always better to annoy those in charge in a direct, personal manner. The US ambassador will remember protests which happen right before his eyes much better than faraway written protests in blogs et.al. Next time just park a Caterpillar at the entrance of his private residence and tell him he is lucky, for the bulldozer does not remove his house.

      Reply to Comment
    5. [...] Nachricht:“Deutsche bei Protesten gegen Tod von Palästinenserin festgenommen“. Hier der Bericht von Joseph Dana, irgendwo auf den Bildern müsste auch die verhaftete Deutsche zu sehen [...]

      Reply to Comment
    6. I am US activist reporter and the only non-Arab @ US founded and based http://arabisto.com/

      I took the liberty to cross post this article @
      http://arabisto.com/article/Blogs/Eileen_Fleming/Demonstrators_return_tear_gas_canisters_to_US_ambassadors_home/93179

      I would be grateful to build a partnership with +972, so thanks for a reply thorough my site.

      Eileen Fleming,
      Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org
      Staff Member of Salem-news.com
      A Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com

      Producer “30 Minutes with Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu”

      Author of “Keep Hope Alive” and “Memoirs of a Nice Irish American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory” and BEYOND NUCLEAR:Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010
      http://www.youtube.com/user/eileenfleming

      Only in Solidarity do “we have it in our power to begin the world again.”-Tom Paine

      Reply to Comment
    7. rbmeritt

      How does someone get arrested for returning property to it’s rightful owner? Any live canisters might have been returned for a refund. And tear gas makes the lungs fill with water and you drown in your own fluid.

      Reply to Comment
    8. [...] In response, hundreds of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv and a group of activists returned the American manufactured weapons used in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to the American [...]

      Reply to Comment
    9. John

      Really didn’t like the tone from this article. It smelled from a strong anti-Israeli bias, that made it harder for me to take the story seriously. It would help if you stick to a reporting tone and refrain from sentences like “The demonstrators also made noise throughout the ambassador’s neighborhood, informing residents of how American military aid to Israel is being used to kill unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators in the West Bank.”

      Reply to Comment
    10. [...] January 3, 2011 at 10:00 (Collective Punishment, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocide, Israel, Occupied West Bank, Oppression, Palestine, Soldier Brutality, War Crimes) We have often stated that the Gaza Strip is the worls’s largest open air concentration camp.  Recent developements in the West Bank have turned that besieged area into the largest open air gas chamber. Apologists for zionism are constantly arguing against our comparrisons of what is going on in Palestine today with the holocaust of Eastern Europe. Their biggest comeback is ‘where are the gas chambers? Perhaps if they read the following report their tune will change …. needless to say, all made possible by gifts from the United States Government…. [...]

      Reply to Comment
    11. [...] if they read the following report their tune will change …. needless to say, all made possible by gifts from the United States Government…. An Israeli security official said Sunday that “many Western countries use this type of [...]

      Reply to Comment
    12. [...] UPDATE: Dana also reported that other demonstrators went to Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, and demonstrated outside the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, where they “returned” used tear gas cannisters from the Bil’in demonstrations. In an article posted on the website of +972 magazine, Dana wrote that “The tear gas used by the Israeli forces in Bil’in is manufactured by Combined Systems Inc.; a United States company based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania. This is the first protest where empty tear gas canisters have been returned to an ambassador’s home. Approximately twenty five Israeli protesters gathered in front of the residence of American ambassador to Israel, James B. Cunningham around 1am local time. The protesters ‘returned’ loads of spent tear gas canisters collected in the West Bank village of Bil’in in protest of the murder of Bil’in’s Jawaher Abu Rahmah. The demonstrators also made noise throughout the Ambassador’s neighborhood informing residents of how American military aid to Israel is being used to kill unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators in the West Bank … The action in front of the American ambassador’s residence completed a day of protest throughout Israel and the West Bank stemming from Abu Rahmah’s death”. This article is posted here. [...]

      Reply to Comment
    13. [...] The twelve Israeli activists arrested in connection to the protest at US ambassador’s home on Saturday…have been released from jail on no bail. The charges included illegal weapons possession and distributing public order were not dropped but the judge argued that there was no evidence for the charges to hold up in a trial. The state requested that the activists pay 3000 NIS as well as serve a ten day house arrest sentence. However, the judge released the activists on a condition that they stay 200 meters away from an US institution for the next thirty days. The state could push for a trial against the activists but that seems highly unlikely at this point. [...]

      Reply to Comment
    14. [...] Apparently the ambassador did not appreciate the courteous gesture. The police quickly arrived, broke up the action, arrested eleven people, and found a way to keep them jailed on trumped up charges. [...]

      Reply to Comment
    15. [...] Apparently the ambassador did not appreciate the courteous gesture. The police quickly arrived, broke up the action, arrested eleven people, and found a way to keep them jailed on trumped up charges. [...]

      Reply to Comment
    16. [...] dispersal.” The company also makes tear gas, and its canisters have been fired at protesters in the West Bank and in Egypt’s Tahrir Square this year.Ali Winston, a crime reporter for the local public [...]

      Reply to Comment
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