Tristan Anderson’s parents are demanding that a full investigation be launched by Israel on why their son is fighting for his life.
On March 13 Anderson was shot in the head with a tear gas canister round at a Arab-Jewish demonstration at the West Bank village of Ni’lin. The American peace activist was with three or four other activists when the attack took place. The canister that was fired has a range of more than 400 metres. It was fired from a mere 60 metres at Mr. Anderson. Those with him at the time say that he was not involved with the main protest.
Tristan was shot by the new tear-gas canisters that can be shot up to 500m. I ran over as I saw someone had been shot, while the Israeli forces continued to fire tear-gas at us. When an ambulance came, the Israeli soldiers refused to allow the ambulance through the checkpoint just outside the village. After 5 minutes of arguing with the soldiers, the ambulance passed.
– Teah Lunqvist (Sweden) – International Solidarity Movement
Anderson is lucky to be alive at all. The canister caused a multiple fracture to his skull, severe injury to the frontal lobe of his brain, and a collapsed eye socket. Anderson has already underwent three operations. One of those surgeries involved removal of portions of his frontal lobe. He remains in critical condition in a medically induced coma at Israeli hospital Tel Hashomer.
Nancy Anderson, mother of the 37-year-old man, flew from California with her husband Michael to be with her child.
The Independent reports:
“We want the Israeli government to publicly take full responsibility for the shooting of our son,” she said.
“I don’t carry any negative feelings towards the soldier who shot our son. All I feel is love for Tristan and fear for his recovery.”
Anderson works seasonally with a trade union in Oakland, California setting up conventions. This was his first time to Israel where he was vacationing with his girlfriend.
In the past Anderson has taken part in peace demonstrations in Iraq before the US invasion in 2003, and in El Salvador and Guatemala. At the time of the incident Anderson was involved with the International Solidarity Movement, a group that brings internationals to the Palestine to support nonviolent resistance against the Occupation. In the past when international figures are present the military is less likely to use lethal force against unarmed protesters.
Michael Anderson said that his son was curious about the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to the Guardian:
“Tristan has always been interested in how societies that go through conflict are able to resolve their issues,” said his father. “He came to understand for himself what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was about. It is ironic that the country in which he was shot is a democracy where it is supposed to be a duty for everyone to follow their conscience. We want to know the truth of what happened and we want justice for our son.”
According to Jonathon Pollack, an activist with the Israeli “Anarchists against the Wall” organisation, the incident took place about a kilometer away after demonstrators had started to leave. In the early portions of the protest it is true stones were thrown but Anderson was not among those being aggressive.
The Israeli military has said that some 400 rioters had thrown a “a massive number of rocks” at the troops. They also state that the protesters threw firebombs and directed burning tyres at the forces. They went on to say that during 2008 73 personnel were injured at or near Ni’lin.
The Guardian reports:
“Israel regrets that the Israeli and foreign nationals co-operate with violent rioters against the building of the security fence, whose purpose is saving the lives of Israeli citizens,” it said. “As such, any Israeli, Palestinian, or foreign national who illegally participates in a violent demonstration takes upon himself the risk of personal harm during the dispersal of these disturbances.”
Press TV says that Israel has offered no sympathy for the Anderson family and in fact have blamed Anderson for participating in the demonstrations as the cause of his injuries.
Attorney Michael Sfard, working for the Anderson family understands that it is doubtful that an investigation will yield a result. He stated that 90 to 92 percent of all launched investigations do not have a result in Israel. Since 2000 only four out of 110-120 court cases have lead to an indictment. Only one lead to a conviction. That conviction was an Arab-Israeli soldier who killed British peace activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza.