The death of Mustafa Tamimi is another example of people suffering from the misuse of tear gas in Israel and The Occupied Palestinian Territories. We have witnessed a series of deaths and injuries in recent years from tear gas canisters being fired directly at crowds. Tristan Anderson of Oakland California is suffering from brain damage, paralysis and seizures after he was hit in the head by a canister at a 2009 demonstration.
The Israeli army has described Mr Tamimi’s death as an ‘exceptional incident’; sadly we know this to not be the case. IDF regulations prohibit firing tear gas directly at people. It would appear though that the military regularly violates its own regulations at Palestinian demonstrations in the West Bank. In April 2009, Bassem Abu-Rahmah, from the village of Bil’in, was killed by a tear gas canister that struck him in the chest. B’Tselem has been warning officials about security forces’ fire tear-gas canisters directly at persons during demonstrations for some time now.
The IDF commanders need to leave in soldiers mind no doubt that they will face disciplinary action if they are caught firing directly at people with tear gas canisters. At the moment the lack of accountability is only entrenching this problem. Soldiers, and ultimately if orders are given, their commanders must face consequences for their actions.