For Immediate Release
18 August 2009: Israel declares the shooting of American activist, Tristan Anderson to be an “act of war.”
Tristan Anderson, an American national, was critically injured on 13 March 2009 when he was shot with a high velocity tear-gas projectile during an unarmed demonstration against the Wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin (report and video: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5324).
The Israeli Ministry of Defense has notified the Anderson family’s lawyers that Israel perceives the incident on 13 March 2009 as an “act of war.” This classification was made despite the fact that Anderson’s shooting occurred during a civilian demonstration and there were no armed hostilities during the event or surrounding it.
The consequence of such classification is that according to Israeli law, the state of Israel is not liable for any damage its’ forces have caused.
Israeli police have completed their criminal investigation and passed the file to the district attorney of the Central District of the Israeli prosecution offices. The Anderson’s criminal attorney, Michael Sfard, is awaiting their decision.
According to Michael Sfard,
If a process by which unarmed civilian demonstration is classified by Israel as an ‘act of war,’ then clearly Israel admits that it is at war with civilians. International law identifies the incident as a clear case of human rights abuse. As such, Tristan and his family are undoubtedly entitled to justice and compensation. We will pursue this matter and take the government of Israel to court.
In addition to filing a criminal complaint against the State of Israel for the shooting of their son, the Andersons have submitted a notice of intent to file a civil suit.
Leah Tsemel, the civil suit attorney, stated,
This is another occasion where the Israeli government is alluding responsibility. The demonstrations that take place in Ni’lin and Bil’in are not acts of war. We will pursue, in Israeli courts and international courts if necessary, justice for the Anderson family.
Tristan Anderson was critically injured on 13 March 2009 when he was shot with a high-velocity tear gas projectile by Israeli forces. He was taken to Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv and to date remains in the hospital facilities. Tristan suffered multiple condensed fractures as a result of being hit in the right frontal lobe. He has had several life-saving surgeries and his prospects for recovery are unclear. On 10 August 2009, Tristan underwent another surgery to reattach the top part of his skull, which was removed in order to save his life immediately after his shooting five months ago.
Several eye-witnesses have given testimony that Tristan was shot when he could not have been perceived as any threat to the forces in the area. He was shot from around 60 meters while standing with a few internationals and Palestinians, hours after the demonstration had dispersed from the construction site of the Wall.
“We are horrified and overwhelmed,” said Nancy Anderson during a press conference on 23 March 2009. “We are scared and really still in shock. To shoot peaceful demonstrators is really horrifying to us. What we want to ask is that the Israeli government publicly take full responsibility for the shooting of our son.” (audio of press conference held by the Andersons: http://www.alternativenews.org/news-from-within:-palestine/israel-podcasts/1854-news-from-within-podcast-press-conference-of-the-parents-of-american-activist-tristan-anderson-who-was-critically-injured-by-israeli-military.html)
Israeli forces have been systematically shooting tear-gas projectiles directly at demonstrators during protests at the West Bank Wall.
After Anderson’s shooting, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem requested the Judge Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, to immediately clarify to security forces that it is absolutely forbidden to directly aim tear-gas canisters, including extended-range type canisters, at demonstrators in the West Bank. B’Tselem also provided extensive video footage of demonstrations in Ni’lin, Bi’lin, and Jayyus showing repeated firing of tear-gas grenades directly at demonstrators, proving that, contrary to the army’s contentions, Israeli forces in the West Bank have commonly practiced this unlawful act. (report & video: http://www.btselem.org/English/Firearms/20090318_Firing_of_Tear_Gaz_at_Demonstrators.asp).
Following the killing of a Palestinian demonstrator in Bil’in, Basem Abu Rahme, by Israeli forces on 17 April 2009 with a high velocity tear gas projectile (report and video: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/6185), B’Tselem again demanded that the army enforce its Open-Fire Regulations and investigate the incidents (http://www.btselem.org/English/Firearms/20090422_Firing_Tear_Gaz_Canisters_directly_on_People.asp).
On 5 May 2009, Yehoshua Lemberger, deputy state attorney for criminal affairs of the Justice Ministry, asked the police to review the guidelines for dispersing protesters based on Rahme’s death and the police investigations of four additional incidents that occurred in Nil’in, including the shooting of Tristan Anderson (http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1239710864477&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull).