Parents of critically injured US peace activist demand justice from Israel

Peace campaigner was struck in head with teargas grenade during demo in occupied West Bank.

Rory McCarthy
The Guardian of London
March 23, 2009

Protestors hold up a poster of Tristan Anderson, who was injured by Israel troops. Photograph: Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP

Protestors hold up a poster of Tristan Anderson, who was injured by Israel troops. Photograph: Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP

The parents of an American peace activist who was severely injured by Israeli forces at a demonstration in the occupied West Bank called on the Israeli government today to take "full responsibility" for the shooting.

Tristan Anderson, 38, was hit in the forehead by a high-velocity teargas canister fired by an Israeli border policeman in the village of Nilin earlier this month. The incident came after a demonstration against Israel's West Bank barrier, which as elsewhere has cut off a large slice of the village's agricultural land.

Since last July, four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in similar demonstrations in the village.

Anderson was rushed to the Tel Hashomer hospital in Israel, where he has already had three operations. He lost the sight in his right eye and doctors had to remove portions of his frontal lobe. It is not clear if he will survive, or how much brain damage he may have suffered.

His parents, Nancy and Michael, who flew out from their home near Sacramento in California to be at his bedside, said he remained in a "very critical condition" in a medically induced coma.

"We are horrified and overwhelmed," said Nancy Anderson. "We are scared and really still in shock. To shoot peaceful demonstrators is really horrifying to us. What we want to ask is that the Israeli government publicly take full responsibility for the shooting of our son."

She said no Israeli official, from either the government or the military, had contacted the couple since their son was hurt. "I don't carry any negative feelings towards the soldier who shot our son," she said. "All I feel is love for Tristan and fear for his recovery."

Tristan Anderson worked in Oakland, California, as part of a crew involved in setting up conventions. He arrived in Israel in February with his girlfriend, and was planning to stay three months before joining his parents in Europe for a holiday.

He had been involved in previous peace demonstrations elsewhere in the world, including in Iraq in 2003, El Salvador and Guatemala. He was at the 2000 demonstration in Prague against the World Bank and IMF.

"Tristan has always been interested in how societies that go through conflict are able to resolve their issues," said his father. "He came to understand for himself what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was about. It is ironic that the country in which he was shot is a democracy where it is supposed to be a duty for everyone to follow their conscience. We want to know the truth of what happened and we want justice for our son."

Jonathan Pollack, an Israeli activist who was at the demonstration this month, said Tristan was hit at around 4.30pm inside the village, at least 1km from the barrier, at a time when the demonstration was dispersing. Although, as is often the case, there had been some stone-throwing at the protest, he said Tristan had never thrown any stones or taken any violent action. Pollack said Israeli border police had led an incursion into Nilin that morning.

"For hours before he was shot, Tristan was nowhere near the wall," he said. It is thought he was hit by a high-velocity teargas grenade, a weapon newly being used against West Bank demonstrators. It comes in a black canister labelled in Hebrew "40mm bullet special/long range", and is silent when fired, according to demonstrators. Tristan was hit from a distance of about 60 metres, they said.

Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer acting for the Anderson family, said he had filed an official complaint demanding an independent investigation. He said that evidence from Israeli human rights researchers showed neither the border police nor the barrier itself were under any threat at the time of the shooting.

"The incident took place in the village of Nilin when the protesters came back to the village after a peaceful demonstration," Sfard said. "The policemen involved, both the guy who shot and the officers who gave orders, must take the full might of criminal justice."

The Israeli military described the protest as a "violent riot", saying that "approximately 400 rioters threw a massive number of rocks at security forces".

"Israel regrets that the Israeli and foreign nationals co-operate with violent rioters against the building of the security fence, whose purpose is saving the lives of Israeli citizens," it said. "As such, any Israeli, Palestinian, or foreign national who illegally participates in a violent demonstration takes upon himself the risk of personal harm during the dispersal of these disturbances."

Israel-Palestine Timeline

Our latest project Israel-Palestine Timeline: The human cost of the conflict records photos and information for each person who has been killed in the ongoing violence. Visit the site

History of the Israel Lobby


Alison Weir's book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.


Buy it on Amazon, and visit the book website for reviews, more ordering options, and upcoming author events.

Palestine Photography Project


The Palestine Photography Project reproduces high quality images of historic pre-1948 Palestine from the Library of Congress. Visit the site

Rachel Corrie
Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli soldier driving a bulldozer.

1979 – 2003
On 16 March, 2003, 23-year-old Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer. more

Thomas Hurndall
Tom Hurndall was killed by an Israeli sniper.

1981 - 2004
21-year-old Tom Hurndall was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper on April 11, 2003. He died nine months later. more

Videos & Multimedia

Documentary – ISM Rafah - Solidarity Under Occupation

Nonviolent Protest in Bil'in, 4/17/09; Bassem Abu Rahme is Killed

3/20/2004 demonstration in Karbatha, Palestine – activists shot

View footage from 2/6/2004 demonstration at Georgetown University, USA

View footage from 12/26/2003 demonstration in Mas’ha, West Bank—Israeli activist, Gil Ne’amati, is shot

View footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Ramallah, West Bank

View footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Zbuba, West Bank

MORE footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Zbuba, West Bank

Related Articles

Irish Nobel peace laureate shot by Israeli military

'My son lived a worthwhile life'

Rachel Corrie: Myths and Facts

Swedish human rights worker viciously
attacked by Israeli settler

The Shooting of Brian Avery

Rachel’s Letters

More on Attacks on Internationals

The Death of Bassem Abu Rahme

Witness for the Defenseless

American priest and nun join Palestinian non-violent resistance in Gaza

Nonviolent Palestinian Resistance

The Palestinian Resistance: Its Legitimate Right and the Moral Duty

More Articles on Resistance

Additional Resources

Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance

Charter of the United Nations

Amnesty Report – Fear for Safety

Play – My Name is Rachel Corrie

Flyer – Rachel Corrie Cards

Poster – Rachel Corrie, 1979-2003

Poster – Tom Hurndall, 21-year-old killed

Booklet – Rachel’s Letters | en español

Congressional Resolution Expressing sympathy for the loss of Rachel Corrie – Not Yet Passed

Merchandise Commemorating Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall

Organizations

Americans for Middle East Understanding

End the Occupation Coalition

Al Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition

International Solidarity Movement

Secular Peace Groups

American Muslims for Palestine

A Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)

More Religious Peace Groups

RachelCorrie.org

TomHurndall.co.uk

International Solidarity Movement

Get email updates: Sign Up!


If Americans Knew distributes and posts to our website copyrighted material, sometimes without the permission of the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of the Israel/Palestine conflict. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law since it is being distributed without profit for purely educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

This website is printer-friendly. Please Print this article and share it with your friends and family.