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Combined Systems Inc.

, stop providing equipment that


Israel misuses to kill and maim unarmed protesters
Posted on: January 4, 2011

3 January 2011:

Open letter to Combined Systems Inc written by Palestine solidarity groups

Dear Combined Systems Inc.,

As US groups committed to justice and peace, we are writing to ask that Combined Systems
Inc. cease providing CSI equipment to the Israeli government in response to the Israeli
military’s ongoing and foreseeable misuse of CSI crowd control equipment to kill and maim
protesters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli military has demonstrated a
pattern of misuse of your equipment, directly leading to the death and injury of unarmed
demonstrators in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Over the last two years alone, the
Israeli military has used your products to kill two peaceful protesters from one family in the
West Bank village of Bil’in, to severely injure two peaceful protesters from the US, and to
seriously injure many more. According to the the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, two
other Palestinians were killed by Israeli tear gas in 2002.[1]

As noted on CSI’s website, “Israeli Military Industries” are among CSI’s “military customers
and development partners.” CSI has an ethical and legal responsibility to ensure that the
Israeli government is using CSI products according to product guidelines. Unfortunately, the
Israeli military has a well-documented track record of systematically using excessive force
against civilians, including with CSI products as outlined below, and thus is not an
appropriate customer for CSI.

Furthermore, it is our understanding that the tear gas sent by CSI to the Israeli military may be
provided as part of the US government’s military aid to Israel. For example, for 2007 and
2008, the US State Department provided $1.85 million worth of “tear gasses and riot control
agents” to Israel as part of US military aid.[2] As taxpayers, we strongly object to the
possibility that CSI may be using our tax dollars to support Israel’s repression of Palestinian
rights.

Most recently, on December 31st, 2010, Israeli soldiers fired what was described by multiple
eyewitnesses as excessive tear gas at protesters in the West Bank village of Bil’in, resulting in
the death of 36 year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah from Bil’in. Around 1,000 Palestinians,
Israelis and foreigners were demonstrating in Bil’in that day against Israel’s construction of a
wall through village land, separating residents from their livelihoods in violation of
international law. According to Jawaher’s mother Subhiyeh who was with her at the time,
“We weren’t even very close to them and the soldiers fired tear gas at us… Jawaher told me
that her chest hurt and she couldn’t breathe. Then she fell down and started vomiting.”[3]
Jawaher was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where she died the next morning from
cardiac arrest. Protesters gathered tear gas canisters used by Israeli soldiers at the December
31st protest, including one very common canister with the letters CTS written on it.[4] CTS,
short for Combined Tactical Systems, is a brand name of CSI.[5]

Tragically, Jawaher Abu Rahmah was the second person in her family to be killed by tear gas
that was apparently provided to the Israeli army by CSI. Jawaher’s brother Bassem Abu
Rahmah was killed on April 17, 2009 at a peaceful protest in Bil’in when he was hit directly
in the chest by a CSI tear gas canister fired from a gun by an Israeli soldier. The Israeli human
rights organization B’Tselem reported in an April 21, 2009 letter to the Israeli military’s
Judge Advocate General that the direct firing of tear gas at protesters was common practice
and violated both Israeli open-fire regulations and CSI product instructions, saying, “The
Open‐Fire Regulations require that tear‐gas grenades fired from a launcher be carried out
by indirect fire, with the barrel of the rifle aimed upwards at a sixty‐degree angle. The
Website of CSI, the American company that manufactures the extended range grenades,
explicitly points out that the grenades are not to be fired at individuals, since doing so is liable
to cause injury or death.”[6] West Bank protesters have collected examples of CSI extended
range grenades that were fired at protesters (see sample photo below from 2009). In response
to an Israeli reporter’s submitted query, an Israeli army spokesperson has confirmed in
writing that the extended range projectiles are produced by CSI. CSI’s website also explains
that these canisters are intended to break indoor barricades.[7] Different CSI products are
labeled for outdoor use.

B’Tselem further documented that among those hit by extended range canisters fired directly
at protesters was US citizen Tristan Anderson in March 2009. According to B’Tselem, “On
13 March, a Border Police officer fired an extended-range type tear-gas canister that struck
Tristan Anderson, an American citizen, during a demonstration in Ni’ilin. B’Tselem’s
investigation reveals that the police officer fired the canister directly at Anderson from 60
meters away… The grenade struck him in the forehead, fracturing his skull and injuring the
front lobe of his brain.”[8] He is left partially handicapped and suffers slight cognitive
damage.” The canister “caused severe traumatic brain injury and blindness in his right
eye.”[9] Anderson, who remains in a wheelchair, “has not yet regained the use of the left side
of his body.”[10]

In a September, 2010 report, The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, a coordinating


body for unarmed demonstrations in the West Bank, noted that, “According to Palestinian
Red Crescent records in Bil’in and Ni’ilin, 18 people have been directly shot at and hit by the
high velocity projectiles since their introduction, in these two villages alone.”[11] In addition
to the killing of Bassem Abu Rahmah and injury of Tristan Anderson, other severe injuries
include those to Bil’in resident Khamis Abu Rahmah who “suffered a fractured skull and
brain hemorrhage after being struck in the back of his head with an extended range tear gas
projectile. “
Another US citizen, 21-year-old Emily Henochowicz, lost her left eye when an Israeli soldier
fired an aluminum tear gas canister directly at her, striking her face during a West Bank
protest on May 31, 2010.[12] Protesters have also collected numerous aluminum tear gas
canisters with CSI and CTS initials on them that were fired by Israeli soldiers at protesters
(see below).

Though B’Tselem reported on May 4, 2009 that Israel’s Judge Advocate General forbade the
firing of tear gas canisters directly at protesters, [13] the Popular Struggle Coordination
Committee[14] and the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz[15] documented in December 2010 that
the Israeli military has continued to fire extended range tear gas canisters directly at
protesters.

Reports by diverse human rights groups including B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch[16] and
the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict[17] have documented Israel’s use of
excessive and lethal force against civilians. These reports, and the cases cited above of
Israel’s specific misuse of CSI products, demonstrate clearly that CSI cannot rely on the
Israeli military to use CSI products in an appropriate manner without undue death and severe
injury to civilians. Therefore, CSI is obligated to end its sale of these products to the Israeli
government.

Thank you for your attention to this issue. We look forward to your response.

-–-–-–-–--

[1] http://btselem.org/english/statistics/
[2] http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/asmp/factsandfigures/government_data_index.html#655
[3] http://www.aolnews.com/2011/01/02/palestinian-protester-jawaher-abu-rahmah-dies-
from-tear-gas-inha/
[4] Photo above resembles this CSI/CTS model: http://combinedsystems.com/less-
lethal/Flash-Bang/Flash-Bangs-Tear-Ball.aspx
[5] http://www.combinedsystems.com/About_us.aspx, see CTS products:
http://combinedsystems.com/less-lethal/CTS%20Catalog%202009.pdf
[6]
http://www.btselem.org/Download/20090421_Letter_to_JAG_concerning_the_shooting_of_
Bassem_Abu_Rahmah_English.pdf
[7] http://combinedsystems.com/less-lethal/Chemical-Munitions/Chemical-Munitions-40mm-
Penetrators.aspx
[8]
http://www.btselem.org/English/Firearms/20090318_Firing_of_Tear_Gaz_at_Demonstrators.
asp
[9] http://www.democracynow.org/2010/11/16/in_first_interview_since_critical_injury
[10] http://justicefortristan.org/
[11] http://www.popularstruggle.org/content/under-repression
[12]
http://www.democracynow.org/2010/8/5/exclusiveemily_henochowicz_speaks_out_art_stude
nt
[13] http://combinedsystems.com/less-lethal/CTS%20Catalog%202009.pdf
[14] http://www.popularstruggle.org/content/demonstrator-suffers-head-injury-after-being-hit-
directly-tear-gas-projectile-nabi-saleh
[15] http://www.popularstruggle.org/content/idf-resumes-use-prohibited-tear-gas-canisters
[16] http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2005/06/21/promoting-impunity-0
[17] http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf

Updated on January 4, 2011


Posted under: Features, Press Releases
Tags: Bil'in, Combined Systems Inc., Ni'lin, Tear-gas, weapons

Source:
http://palsolidarity.org/2011/01/16340/