RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — An American activist struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops in the West Bank was in serious condition Saturday after undergoing surgery, hospital officials said.
Tristan Anderson, 38, of Oakland, Calif., was wounded Friday in the West Bank village of Naalin, during a protest against Israel's separation barrier. In the past year, four Palestinians have been killed and scores injured by Israeli troops putting down weekly stone-throwing protests against the barrier, which cuts off Naalin from 300 acres of olive groves.
On Friday, several hundred protesters marched from the village toward the barrier. The Israeli military said there was heavy stone-throwing and troops fired tear gas. Demonstrators said the stone-throwing was sporadic.
Anderson did not throw any stones, said Jonathan Pollack, an Israeli activist who was in Naalin.
Most of the demonstrators, including Anderson, had returned to the village when the American was hit in the forehead and fell to the ground, said a friend, Gabrielle Silverman, who was several feet away from him. The fist-sized canister fractured his skull, she said.
"Nothing was happening in the immediate area where we were, or anywhere else," Silverman said Saturday.
Troops kept firing tear gas as Anderson was being moved into a Palestinian ambulance, Silverman said.
Pollack said the ambulance carrying Anderson had to wait 15 minutes at an Israeli checkpoint, until an Israeli ambulance arrived to take him to Tel Hashomer Hospital near Tel Aviv because Palestinian vehicles are not permitted to enter Israel.
Anderson underwent surgery and was in serious condition, said Orly Levi, a Tel Hashomer spokeswoman. Silverman said skull fragments and a portion of his right frontal lobe were removed. He also suffered major trauma to the bone surrounding his right eye, she said.
Anderson and Silverman arrived in the region in February and had planned to spend three months in Israel, the Palestinian territories and neighboring countries, Silverman said.
His injury revived complaints by human rights activists that Israeli troops often use excessive force in dispersing West Bank protests. The Israeli military says stone-throwing poses a threat to troops, and several officers have been injured by rocks.
Troops used the permitted means of riot dispersal in Friday's incident, the military said. This includes tear gas, rubber-coated steel pellets and stun grenades.
Ahed Khawaja, a Palestinian coordinator of the Naalin protests, said about 450 people have been injured, 12 of them seriously, since the demonstrations began in April. The barrier near Naalin is about 80 percent complete, he said.
Israel says the barrier is a defense against Palestinian attackers infiltrating into Israel. But Palestinians view it as a thinly veiled land grab because it juts into the West Bank at multiple points.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Tristan Anderson Update: After Surgery, In Serious Condition
Tweet We need to protest this and make sure people know that this happens to Palestinians all the time. See post below with link to State Dept. Thanks. Linda
Posted by LJansen at 10:54 AM