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Palestinian protester killed by Israeli tear-gas canister

December 10, 2011 |  5:15 am

REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- A Palestinian protester died early Saturday after being hit in the face with a tear-gas canister at close range during one of the weekly West Bank demonstrations against Israel's security barrier.

Mustafa Tamimi, 28, was struck Friday in the right eye by Israeli security forces in the village of Nabi Saleh. Graphic video and photographs appear to show Tamimi standing in front of an Israeli military vehicle, hurling rocks before being hit, and later bleeding on the ground.

He becomes the latest casualty of the weekly clashes that occur in several West Bank villages, where rock-throwing Palestinians face off with Israeli border police and soldiers. Though Israeli military officials say they try to deploy only nonlethal measures to halt the demonstrations, Palestinian and Israeli human-rights groups complain that Israeli forces often aim tear-gas canisters directly at protesters, causing death and injury.

In 2009, Palestinian activist Bassam Abu Rahme was killed after being struck by a high-velocity tear-gas canister.

Shortly before that incident, American activist Tristian Anderson was hit in the head with a similar projectile, leaving him crippled and brain-damaged. This spring during a demonstration at the Kalandia checkpoint, New York student Emily Henochowicz, 21, who was visiting Israel as an exchange student, lost an eye when she was struck with a tear-gas canister.

Israeli military officials insist they do not deliberately aim tear-gas canisters at protesters, but accidents occur in the chaos. A spokeswoman noted that 200 members of Israeli security forces have been injured by rocks or Molotov cocktails over the last two years during the weekly protests.


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Photo: Mustafa Tamimi, left, reacts in pain after being hit in the face by a tear-gas canister fired by Israeli troops in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Credit: Haim Schwarczenberg / AFP/Getty Images