New York, NY, January 11 – Thirty-five protesters gathered during the lunch hour today outside the midtown Manhattan offices of Point Lookout Capital Partners, a New York firm that facilitates investment in Combined Systems Inc. (CSI). CSI, based in Pennsylvania, sells tear gas to the Israeli army that the Israeli army has then used to kill and seriously injure a number of unarmed protesters in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including on January 1, 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah from the village of Bil’in.
Dave Lippman from Adalah-NY explained, “The Israeli military is using tear gas manufactured by CSI and financed through Point Lookout Capital as a weapon to crush the growing unarmed protest movement against Israel’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. We as US taxpayers are paying for some of the tear gas that Israel is shooting at Palestinian, Israeli and American protesters. The US government needs to stop providing this deadly aid, and CSI and Point Lookout need to end their complicity in Israel’s violent repression of legitimate protest.”
In 1988 the US company Federal Laboratories ceased its sale of tear gas to Israel for four months due to Israel’s misuse of tear gas against unarmed civilians which had led to at least forty deaths.
The New York protesters held signs with photos of Palestinians and international activists killed and severely wounded by Israeli tear gas canisters at protests, including Jawaher Abu Rahmah and her brother Bassem, who was killed when shot directly with a canister in April 2009, and Palestinian Khamis Abu Rahmah and Americans Tristan Anderson and Emily Henochowicz, all of whom were severely injured by Israeli tear gas canisters fired directly at them in 2009-2010. Protesters displayed photos of tear gas canisters manufactured by CSI, financed through Point Lookout Capital, and shot at protesters in the villages of Bil’in and Ni’ilin by the Israeli army.
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.
The New York protest followed a January 2 protest in Tel Aviv during which Israeli activists attempted to “return” spent US-made tear gas canisters fired at protesters to the home of the US Ambassador. Pennsylvanians have announced a January 17th Martin Luther King Day protest outside the Jamestown, PA office of Combined Systems Inc..
870 people have emailed CSI, Point Lookout Capital Partners and the Carlyle Group, another CSI investor, calling on CSI to end its provision of tear gas to Israel, following an action alert issued by Adalah-NY and other groups. 1900 people have signed a related petition to CSI by the group CodePink.
630 people have also emailed the US State Department officials calling on the US government to stop its provision of tear gas and military aid to Israel until Israel ends human rights abuses. The emails to the State Department also called on the US government to speak out strongly against Israel’s jailing of protest organizers. Today, an Israeli military judge announced the extension of the fourteen-month imprisonment of one Bil’in protest organizer, Abdallah Abu Rahmah. Following days of questioning by a reporter, on December 17th the State Department said it had raised concerns about Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s imprisonment with the Israeli government. Amnesty International today officially designated Abu Rahmah a “prisoner of conscience,” “jailed solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and assembly.”
New York Protest Photos | More Background on CSI