Palestinian Dies After Hit by Tear Gas Canister

Photographs show Mustafa Tamimi in the moments before and after he was hit by a tear gas canister fired by an IDF soldier in an apparent violation of the rules of engagement.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

A resident of the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, Mustafa Tamimi, died on Saturday from the wounds he suffered Friday when he was hit in the face by a tear gas canister. Tamimi was hit when the canister was fired several meters from him, during the weekly demonstration that takes place in the West Bank village.

Tamimi, 28, was throwing stones at an armored army jeep when he was shot by an IDF soldier sitting in the rear of the vehicle. Photographs show Tamimi in the moments before and after he was hit.

Palestinian protester Mustafa Tamimi, just before he was hit by a tear-gas canister in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, December 9, 2011. Rifle barrel and canister circled in red.Credit: AP
Mustafa Tamimi just after he was hit by a tear gas canister that killed him. Credit: AP

The photos shows Tamimi several meters behind the jeep and that he was hit directly in the head, which is against the regulations governing the rules of engagement. According to the rules, the tear gas should not be fired against people.

Tamimi suffered very serious injuries under his right eye and bled profusely. He was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva for treatment, where his death was confirmed by doctors Saturday morning.

"A bulldozer went in to remove an obstacle made of stones which was set up to prevent the jeeps from entering the village," says Schwartzenberg, who stood a few meters away from Tamimi. "There were constant exchanges of stones and tear gas, and when the bulldozer pulled out, stones were thrown at the jeeps. A soldier from the last jeep opened the door and fired directly at Mustafa. From what I saw, there is no chance that the soldier had not seen him. After he was hit, the jeep took off without stopping. Mustafa fell, he was conscious for a few more minutes and then blood began pouring from behind his eye, and I had the feeling that he was finished. I was sure he would not be able to pull through this."

The demonstration at Nabi Salah is part of the weekly protest against the expropriation of land in favor of the nearby settlement of Halamish, and the takeover of a water source by settlers. The demonstrations have been ongoing for two years, each Friday.

Some 70 protesters took part in Friday's demonstration, including Israelis and international activists. In most cases, the demonstrations end with clashes between protesters and the IDF and Border Police.

To date, hundreds of residents of the village have been injured in demonstrations, but Tamimi is the first fatality.

"This is the way the army deals with civilian demonstrations," said the left-wing activist Jonathan Pollak. "This was not chance. The soldiers fired from inside an armored jeep at close range in a way which army regulations forbid. Shooting of this sort happens every week. The unusual part is that instead of hitting someone in the leg, they hit him in the head."

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