Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 19:04 pm (KSA) 16:04 pm (GMT)

US activist shot by Israeli soldier still critical

Tristan Anderson after he was shot in the face by an Israeli soldier (Courtesy of ISM)
Tristan Anderson after he was shot in the face by an Israeli soldier (Courtesy of ISM)

An American activist shot in the face with a tear gun canister by an Israeli soldier remained in critical condition at an Israeli hospital where he was expected to remain for some time.

Israeli officials at the Tel Hashomer Hospital near Tel Aviv said Tristan Anderson, 37, was semi-conscious after undergoing brain surgery Saturday and spending several days under anesthesia.

Anderson was severely injured Friday when Israeli soldiers fired a tear gun canister directly at his head during what protestors said was a weekly non-violent protest against the separation barrier in the village of Naalin, west of Ramallah.

The Israeli Defense Forces claimed the protest was violent and the force used justified.

Tristan Anderson

"Anderson is at the hospital at the intensive care unit of the neurosurgery department after suffering an injury in the head," Ulrike Haen, press officer at the hospital, told AlArabiya.net Wednesday.

She added that Anderson will remain on a respirator and partly sedated until his condition stabilizes. Anderson’s partner, Gabrielle Silverman, said he was in critical condition but slowly improving.

"We are not sure how long he will remain here but once he is better we will see where to take him," said Haen, adding that it has not been decided whether he will fly back to California.

Protestors say peaceful

 No one was throwing rocks around us, nothing was happening, we were standing here 
Gabrielle Anderson, friend

Anderson was severely injured Friday when Israeli soldiers fired a tear gun canister directly at his head during what protestors said was a weekly non-violent protest against the separation barrier in the village of Naalin, west of Ramallah.

“We were at a demonstration against the wall, against the Israeli apartheid wall,” Anderson’s partner Gabrielle Silverman told the U.S. radio station Democracy Now, adding that the peaceful demonstration by unarmed activists had been wrapping up and people had begun leaving when the attack occurred.

“He was taking pictures. He was shot in the head with the extended-range tear-gas canister. Nothing was happening immediately around us by the way I should mention. No one was throwing rocks around us, nothing was happening, we were standing here.”

Witnesses say Israeli soldiers continued to shoot tear gas after medics arrived

Witnesses reported that Israeli forces continued to fire into the crowd even after medics arrived. After a 15-minute delay at the Israeli checkpoint Anderson was taken to Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv.

"The protest was not violent. The IDF attacked the villagers within half an hour after the protest ended and protesters were on their way home," Adam Taylor, media spokesperson for ISM, told AlArabiya.net, adding that Anderson was "well away" from villagers who were throwing stones.

“I ran over as I saw someone had been shot, while the Israeli forces continued to fire tear-gas at us,” said Teah Lunqvist, a Swedish activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). “When an ambulance came, the Israeli soldiers refused to allow the ambulance through the checkpoint just outside the village."

ISM is a Palestinian-led movement devoted to ending the Israeli occupation using nonviolent means.

 The IDF attacked the villagers within half an hour after the protest ended and protesters were on their way home 
Adam Taylor, ISM

The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem filed a complaint with the Israeli judge advocate general earlier this month about the use of live ammunition against demonstrators in the West Bank protesting the separation barrier.

Israeli army and police reintroduced the use of live ammunition, namely .22 rifle bullets, and new tear-gas canisters during the January war in Gaza and have been using them against demonstrators, including last Friday’s incident, according to witnesses.

Silverman said Israeli soldiers used live ammunition and new extended-range gas canisters against the demonstrators protesting the construction of a barrier Israel is building in the West Bank that the International Court of Justice deemed illegal in 2004.

A Naalin resident was shot in the leg with live ammunition Friday, according to the ISM.

IDF claims violence

 I ran over as I saw someone had been shot, while the Israeli forces continued to fire tear-gas at us 
Teah Lunqvist, International Solidarity Movement

The IDF, however, claimed the protest was violent, with demonstrators hurling rocks and fire at Israeli soldiers who were trying to disperse the crowd.

"Tristan Anderson said he belonged to non-violent movement. But I do not understand how he would say he was part of non-violent organization when he was standing in a violent demonstration," Avital Leiboritv, IDF spokesperson, told AlArabiya.net

The initial investigation indicated that forces used "ordinary riot disposal means," which do not involve fire. "The initial investigation says forces were operating in the right manner to disperse this violent riot," said Leiboritv, adding that further investigation into what resulted in the injury will follow.

"If a person decided to be a part of violent demonstration it is his own choice but there are the consequences," she added.

Leiboritv linked the latest protest to a series of "violent protests" by civilians against what they call the Apartheid wall over the past two years.

 If a person decided to be a part of violent demonstration it is his own choice but there are the consequences 
Avital Leiboritv, IDF spokesperson

"When I say violent I mean very violent that include fire bombs thrown at IDF soldiers, 70 of which have been injured in different ways because of these riots," she added.

Four residents, including two children have been killed during demonstrations against the wall since last summer according to ISM and B’Tselem.

Anderson’s supporters held protests outside the Israeli consulates in San Francisco and Miami Monday and the American consul in Tel Aviv said it he had asked the Israeli Foreign Ministry for a copy of any investigation into the incident.

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