ACRI calls for probe of infant’s death in Jerusalem

Police used excessive tear gas in Issawiya; baby suffered from asthma.

By DAN IZENBERG
September 27, 2010 01:53
2 minute read.

 
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The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) called on police on Sunday to investigate an incident in which an infant living in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya died after police used tear gas for two successive days to quell rioting.

According to the human rights organization, the one-year- old suffered from asthma.

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In the letter, which was written by ACRI attorney Nasreen Alian, the organization not only called for an immediate investigation, but also demanded to know what the police regulations were regarding the use of tear gas in residential areas.

“From witness testimony that has reached us, we suspect that the infant’s death might have been caused by exaggerated use of tear gas in a dense, urban residential area,” wrote Alian.

According to the testimony gathered by ACRI, the riots in Issawiya, north of the Hebrew University campus at Mount Scopus, began on September 22, after a Palestinian was shot and killed in an altercation with an Israeli security guard in Silwan earlier that morning.

“It appears that as a result of the penetration of the tear gas into the house [of Muhammad Abu Shara], the condition of the one-yearold infant deteriorated,” wrote the ACRI lawyer. The baby’s father gave him inhalation and took him to a nearby health clinic, where the examining doctor said the infant was in reasonable condition and sent them home.

The next day, the riots resumed and police clashed with residents for nine hours.

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“The police fired a very large number of gas canisters, according to witnesses, so that a thick cloud of gas hovered near the family’s home,” wrote Alian. The witnesses said the cloud was so thick that one could only see a few meters ahead.

The baby’s condition again began to deteriorate, but the father could not leave the house because of the tear gas.

At the same time, ambulances were not allowed to enter the village because of the ongoing clashes, the lawyer wrote. The father continued to give inhalation to the baby, who fell asleep at 2 a.m. At 5 a.m., when the infant’s mother came to look in on him, she found him dead.

The police have not yet said whether they will open an investigation into the incident, but attorney Ronen Leibovich, the police’s chief prosecutor, told ACRI he had not heard of the affair.

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