Why the death of a Palestinian protestor by tear gas is a non-story

Wednesday, January 05, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

The Palestinian Arabs and their apologists around the world are trying their best to turn Jawaher Abu Rahma into the new poster child of their anti-Israel campaign.

Abu Rahma died last Friday after reportedly inhaling tear gas used by Israeli soldiers to disperse violent rioters protesting against the Israeli security fence separating Samaria (the so-called “West Bank”) from Israel’s densely populated coastal region. The demonstration takes place every week.

Details of the incident remain sketchy. After the demonstration, the Palestinian Authority, as it always does, provided Israel with a summary of injuries. The initial summary listed two people who were lightly injured.

Only the next morning did the Palestinians come back to Israel claiming that Abu Rahma, who was not one of the two injuries originally listed, had died from inhaling tear gas. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat labeled Abu Rahma’s death as the latest in a long string of “Israeli war crimes.”

Naturally, the Palestinians did not allow Israel to directly investigate the death, and initially refused to release medical documents related to the case.

When Israel did finally get its hands on the hospital reports, it found suspicious inaccuracies. Most notably, Abu Rahma was described as being in good health, but she was also administered a heavy dosage of medication typically used on those suffering from leukemia.

At first, Israel cried foul, suggesting that Abu Rahma had never even been at the demonstration and had instead died from cancer. But evidence provided later did seem to confirm that she was present at Friday’s riot.

Unfortunately, both the Palestinians and the Israelis are missing the point. The Palestinians are missing it on purpose, the Israelis are missing it because they are so frantic to deflect yet another dubious blood libel.

The point is that even if Abu Rahma died from inhaling tear gas, it is a non-story. The firing of tear gas at a violent demonstration does not indicate lethal intent. The Israelis were not trying to kill Abu Rahma. They were using a common and globally accepted form of crowd control.

If that crowd control method resulted in Abu Rahma’s death, it must be chalked up to either a freak accident or a reaction resulting from an undisclosed medical condition.

To suggest that Abu Rahma’s death in some way demonstrates malicious Israeli intent is the kind of unhinged propaganda that has come to characterize the Palestinian position. And not just from fringe apologists, but from the very Palestinian leaders with whom Israel is supposed to be making peace.

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