Protesters confront US tear gas maker over Bil’in death; more protests planned

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Protesters re-enact the effects of tear gas outside Point Lookout Capital Partners office (Photo: Adalah-NY)

On Tuesday January 11, protesters from Adalah-NY converged on the midtown Manhattan offices of Point Lookout Capital Partners, a New York firm that facilitates investment in Combined Systems Inc. (CSI). CSI produces tear gas that the Israeli military has used to kill and injure a number of unarmed protesters in the West Bank, including most recently 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah in Bil’in.

From a Adalah-NY press release:

Participants staged a re-enactment of protest marches held weekly in Bil’in, including a mock tear-gassing by an actor dressed as an Israeli soldier. The protesters then choked and collapsed motionless on the sidewalk outside the office of Point Lookout Capital. A protester dressed as a doctor then read the names of some of those killed and injured by tear gas in the West Bank.

Jawaher Abu Rahmah died in a hospital a day after she was engulfed in a cloud of tear gas and collapsed at a protest in the village of Bil’in. Additionally, Israeli soldiers have shot directly at and hit at least 18 protesters with tear gas canisters over the last two years in the villages of Bil’in and Ni’ilin alone. No one from the Israeli military has been held accountable for the deaths and injuries caused by shooting tear gas canisters at protesters. The Israeli government has made many claims in an effort to avoid responsibility for Jawaher Abu Rahmah’s death, all of which have been refuted by eyewitnesses and medical staff.

Dorothy Zellner of Jews Say No! said, “I was in Bil’in the day of the funeral and shocked not only by Jawaher’s death and the Israeli use of tear gas as a weapon against unarmed people, but by the series of brazen lies issued by the Israeli army about the incident.” Jane Hirschmann, also of Jews Say No!, explained that her daughter attended Bil’in’s January 7th protest and was sick for two days after due to the large amount of tear gas fired at the crowd. According to Ha’aretz Daily and The Forward, a 2003 Israeli army study revealed that very high concentrations of the tear gas Israel uses could be lethal. Palestinian villages that protest Israeli land seizure are regularly engulfed in tear gas by the Israeli army, with unknown long-term health impacts for residents and their Israeli protest supporters.

It doesn’t seem the protests will end there. A coalition of human rights groups from Pittsburgh, Erie, Youngstown, and Cleveland are organizing protest at CSI headquarters in Jamestown, PA on Monday, January 17, as part of a commenoration of the Martin Luther King holiday. From a press release:

There will be a march and nonviolent demonstration where activists will carry signs and distribute literature to CSI workers and the public. More than two dozen national and international human rights groups have endorsed the march.

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. Some of the protestors’ demands include immediate cessation of production and sale of tear gas by CSI and the immediate suspension of all trade by CSI with Israel. Activists sent a letter to CSI stating their demands and requesting a meeting and are awaiting a response.

On Friday, January 14, Pitt Students for Justice in Palestine will host “Tear Gas Teach-In,” a panel discussion with activists who have witnessed firsthand the use of CSI tear gas at the nonviolent demonstrations in Palestine. This event will be held at 5:00 PM in the University of Pittsburgh’s William Pitt Union.

CSI Headquarters is located at 388 Kinsman Rd Jamestown, PA

For more information, contact:

Jonas Moffat, Pitt Students for Justice in Palestine: [email protected]

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