Spent tear gas canisters thrown at US envoy's house

11 people arrested outside James B. Cunningham's house in a protest against death of woman who died from tear gas in Bil'in.

By
January 3, 2011 04:39
2 minute read.
A Palestinian holds a green Islamic flag as he run

niilin protester 190. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Eleven people were arrested outside the Herzliya residence of US Ambassador James B. Cunningham early overnight Saturday, after they threw spent tear gas canisters at the building during a loud protest.

The protest, which took place around 12:30 a.m., was in response to the death on Saturday morning of Jawaher Abu Rahma, 36, who is believed to have died from tear gas fired by soldiers during a protest against the West Bank security barrier on Friday outside Bil’in, near Modi’in Illit.

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According to online reports from activists and bloggers associated with the protesters, the ambassador’s residence was chosen for the demonstration partly because US corporations supply non-lethal crowd control equipment like tear gas to the IDF.

The 11 protesters – 10 Israelis and a female German tourist – were brought to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Sunday, where their remand was extended by three days.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said police received a complaint around 12:30 a.m. that a large group of people was creating a disturbance outside the ambassador’s house. Officers were dispatched who arrested the 11 activists. He added that searches turned up a metal chain and two additional tear gas canisters in one of the protester’s cars.

The protest took place hours after police arrested several protesters, including former Meretz MK Mossi Raz, at the end of a rally outside Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv also protesting Abu Rahma’s death.

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Witnesses said Raz was struck by a police officer during the fracas, and was later released from custody.

During some of the recent riots in the valleys of east Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods, the acrid smell of tear gas has hung over the houses for hours.

That is why Abu Rahma’s death after the weekly Bil’in protest raised fears in the Silwan neighborhood.

“We’re more worried now, because now we can see what happens with tear gas,” said Murad Shafi, 35, a Silwan resident and a member of the al- Bustan community council. “They throw it at us in the middle of the night. It’s not healthy; because of one person who throws a rock they tear-gas a whole neighborhood. There’s no defense against it.”

Attorney Nisreen Alyan of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel called on the security forces to consider using less dangerous types of tear gas or “set a limit on the means that can be used to disperse a protest.”

Rosenfeld said the police would not change the procedures for using tear gas during riots in east Jerusalem, or anywhere else in the country, as a result of Abu Rahma’s death.

Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.

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