activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: tristan anderson

court orders that investigation into tristan anderson’s injuries at a west bank protest be reopened

On March 13, 2009, Tristan Anderson attended a protest in a West Bank village against Israel’s apartheid wall. As the protest was winding down and Anderson was taking photographs and talking with people, an Israeli Border Police soldier shot him in the head with a high-velocity metal tear-gas canister. Israeli forces then delayed his ambulance at a checkpoint. Anderson suffered brain damage, partial paralysis, and blindness in one eye. According to a December 2011 Los Angeles Times article,

Leaders of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said that the type of tear-gas canister that struck Anderson was particularly dangerous and was phased out by the Israeli military after injuries and fatalities … , including the 2009 death of Palestinian activist Bassam Abu Rahme, who was struck in the chest by the same kind of projectile.

An Israeli investigation concluded that the soldier possessed no criminal intent. Two appeals led to supplemental work on the case, but it was closed again as of February 2012. No charges were filed.

Today, in response to a petition submitted by Anderson’s parents, Israel’s High Court of Justice ordered that the investigation into the incident be reopened. Anderson and his parents are also pressing the Israeli government to pay for his rehabilitation and 24-hour care in a civil lawsuit.

verdict announced in civil suit brought by family of international solidarity movement activist rachel corrie

An Israeli army bulldozer ran over U.S. activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza on March 16, 2003, killing her. Corrie, who was 23 years old, was attempting to prevent the Israeli military from demolishing a Palestinian family’s home. In the middle of a memorial service days after her death, an Israeli tank attacked mourners with tear gas, gunfire, and percussion bombs.

The Israeli army’s inquiry into Corrie’s death was clearly insufficient, so her family brought a civil suit against the Israeli government in March 2005 as a last resort, claiming the bulldozer drivers either saw her in advance or were criminally negligent. The family spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring Hebrew-to-English translators, flying in witnesses, and traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Israel. Today Judge Oded Gershon ruled against them.

The family’s attorney said they would appeal the decision to Israel’s Supreme Court. Notably, of all the civil suits filed regarding foreigners who Israel’s military has harmed, this was the first to conclude via a full civilian trial. Other viable cases have settled (e.g., the suit brought by the family of James Miller) or have yet to resolve (e.g., the suit brought by Tristan Anderson).

Meanwhile, Israel’s demolition of Palestinian and Bedouin homes and structures in the West Bank has increased in 2012, displacing more than 600 Palestinians, and 71,000 housing units are needed in Gaza. After President Obama demanded a total Israeli settlement freeze in June 2009, he quickly gave in to AIPAC pressure. As Corrie wrote in an email to her mother on February 27, 2003, roughly two weeks before she was killed:

This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop.