Activists: Military claims over tear gas death ‘ridiculous’

Ma’an News Agency | Published today (updated) 05/01/2011 13:25


RAMALLAH (Ma’an) –Substantial evidence contradicts the army’s version of the events surrounding the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, activists and protest organizers said Tuesday evening, after Israeli military officials told international media that they believed some evidence in the case to be false.

A statement from the Popular Organizing Committee said the facts contradicting the military spokesman’s version of events made the situation “ridiculous,” and published what it said was eyewitness testimony in direct contradiction to claims of the military.

Mother of the slain 36-year-old, Soubhiya Abu Rahmah, told the group that on 31 December she was standing beside her daughter “on the hill that is near the place where the demonstration took place, when we were injured by a cloud of tear gas. Jawaher began to feel unwell from inhaling the gas and started to move back from the place; soon after that she vomited and collapsed.”

Unnamed military officials told international media outlets that they doubted Jawaher attended the protest, saying their photo-documentation of the event did not show her present. The claims were used to refute accounts saying that Jawaher died the following day from tear-gas inhalation complications.

“We took her to the nearest road, and from there she was evacuated by ambulance to the hospital, where she remained until her death,” her mother said.

Israeli officials said medical reports were inconclusive, and said the young woman had previously been in hospital, possibly for cancer treatment.

“She was not sick with cancer, nor did she have any other illness; and she was not asthmatic,” her mother told protest organizers.

Jawaher’s employer Dr. Uday Abu Nahlah said she came to work healthy the day before, and while family members confirmed that she had an inner ear infection affecting her balance, a statements said she had seen a doctor for the issue.

The doctor who gave her treatment, Dr. Hamis Al Sahfi’i, told organizers that her brain scan was normal. Mohammed Aida, director of the Ramallah health center where Abu Rahmah received her care was quoted in the statement, saying “Jawaher Abu Rahmah died from lung failure that was caused by tear gas inhalation, leading to a heart attack. She arrived at the hospital only partly conscious, and then lost consciousness completely.”

Organizers collected witness statements that put Jawaher at the scene of the protest, corroborate that she suffered tear-gas inhalation and was taken to a medic, who then transferred her to the hospital.

Neighbor Ilham Fathi, said he saw Jawaher from his roof, and watched as she inhaled the tear gas and collapsed. “When the cloud of tear gas moved in our direction, I went downstairs in order to close the windows. While I was closing one of the windows, I saw her lose consciousness from the gas and ran over to her, together with Islam Abu Rahmah, in order to pull her away. We picked her up together and carried her to my garden. We called for help and she began to vomit and foam at the mouth.”

Islam Abu Rahmah, a resident of the village of Bil’in where the weekly protests take place, said he was “standing with Jawaher, her mother and my grandmother in order to watch the confrontation that was going on just in front of us, in the area of the fence. The wind moved the gas in our direction, making our eyes itch and tear up.”

He said Jawaher “was having difficult breathing and lost her sense of direction. We got a few women to help her by waving a paper fan over her face in order to provide some oxygen. After that she was taken to the hospital.”

Ambulance medic Saher Bisharat said the woman was taken into their care “near the entrance that is parallel to the fence, which is where the demonstration was taking place. She was still partially conscious, answered questions, and said that she had choked on gas.”

Organizers cited a tweet sent by the Jewish Voices for Peace, which reports the injury of Jawaher, including her name, in real time, sent at 2:36 p.m.

Maan News Agency: Activists: Military claims over tear gas death ‘ridiculous’.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: