Following the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, four American peace activist groups have written to the US manufacturer that supplies the Israeli military with CS gas products. The letter states:
As US groups committed to justice and peace, we are writing to ask that Combined Systems Inc. cease providing CSI equipment to the Israeli government in response to the Israeli military’s ongoing and foreseeable misuse of CSI crowd control equipment to kill and maim protesters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli military has demonstrated a pattern of misuse of your equipment, directly leading to the death and injury of unarmed demonstrators in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Over the last two years alone, the Israeli military has used your products to kill two peaceful protesters from one family in the West Bank village of Bil’in, to severely injure two peaceful protesters from the US, and to seriously injure many more. According to the the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, two other Palestinians were killed by Israeli tear gas in 2002.
As noted on CSI’s website, “Israeli Military Industries” are among CSI’s “military customers and development partners.” CSI has an ethical and legal responsibility to ensure that the Israeli government is using CSI products according to product guidelines. Unfortunately, the Israeli military has a well-documented track record of systematically using excessive force against civilians, including with CSI products as outlined below, and thus is not an appropriate customer for CSI.
Paul Ford, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for CSI, in a 2009 edition of Special Operations Report [PDF], described the company’s approach to “Non-Lethal Weapons” (NLW) for military forces and law enforcement agencies around the world.
“CSI’s goal is to continue to provide innovative new NLW technologies to save lives and enhance the options available to operators, rather than taking them away,” says Ford. “We’ve finally entered an age where we now have safer options and acceptance, set apart from otherwise conventional lethal force means, which offer immediate compliance by way of NLWs. We’re proud to be a company that has embraced the concept: we can do more by means of compliance with technology rather than with injury or death.”
If CSI takes its corporate mission seriously, it should recognize that its reputation is being seriously undermined by the Israeli military’s unwillingness or inability to use CSI products in compliance with the manufacturer’s directions. In the hands of Israeli conscript soldiers who have little concern for the life or welfare of unarmed protesters, CSI non-lethal weapons no longer live up to that name and instead are causing injury and death.