by Allison Deger
16 March 2012 | Mondoweiss
Following a police investigation that closed with no criminal charges against the Israeli military, new video evidence in Tristan Anderson’s last round for justice—a civil suit—was brought forth, identifying the solider who injured the peace activist with a long-range tear gas canister in 2009. “Sergeant Jackie” is named as the border patrol officer who shot Anderson in the clip filmed by a Palestinian activist from Ni’lin, the village where Anderson was wounded.
In the video, Sgt. Jackie is with two other soldiers, walking towards Palestinians and activists who are in close proximity. Initially, Sgt. Jackie is on the right, then moves to the center as he fires tear gas into the already dispersed crowd. He carries an “extended-range tear gas” launcher, which looks like an oversized rifle. “It’s an experimental weapon,” said Gabby Silverman who was with Anderson that day. Speaking to me, she explained, “not everyone had them [a tear gas launcher] that day.”
An Israeli state attorney was then able to identify Jackie, whose face is not clear in the clip, by applying facial recognition software. Though out of frame, Silverman’s voice is also heard as Anderson’s wounds are dressed and he is transferred into an ambulance. Anderson’s skull was fractured and the frontal lobe of his brain was severely damaged.
Almost as important as naming Anderson’s shooter, the video shows that the border patrol unit Sgt. Jackie was with was at a distance different from the distance stated in testimony given during a military investigation. Silverman said “in order for this to have been a legal shooting, they would have to be about 100 meters away, as opposed to 50 meters away, as what is shown in the video.”
“Justice for Tristan,” Anderson’s support group, explains:
Note the scene where the Border Police are seen standing between two colorful doors. To the side of them, there is a gate going into a grassy area. This is the grassy area where they were standing when they shot Tristan. Activist eyewitnesses have testified all along that the shots were fired from this area. The Border Police, however, have testified that they were at another location on the other side of town, because to shoot a high velocity tear gas grenade from this distance is illegal. This video seriously undermines the IDF’s story by establishing that the shooters lied about their locations, and were in fact standing just where activists say they were.
For Silverman, the video “also establishes the military is willing to lie in order to cover up their story.” During their time in occupied Palestine, Silverman and Anderson attended many demonstrations in Ni’lin. The day Anderson was shot was their fifth protest. When asked if she had seen the Israeli military use the same weapon Anderson was injured with on other occasions, she said it was “standard…this wasn’t an anomaly, it’s part of a pattern of police violence.”
Supporters of Anderson hope the new evidence will be instrumental to both his current civil suit, as well as re-opening a criminal investigation against the Israeli military. “Both sides,” said Silverman, “have political point to make in the courtroom,” explaining the case is in part about negligence, and in part about Israeli’s systematic use of violence against Palestinians.