An article entitled ‘Predicting a Riot’, on the Eurosatory Land Defence and Security Exhibition website sheds light on the non-lethal weapons currently being developed to control dissent. The article alludes to the British Summer 2011 riots and the Toronto G20 protests as examples of a “new form of mass crime” that justifies the use of new technology by police forces:
“2011 was a year of global political upheaval, as politics and technology converged to change the face of protest, direct action and mass criminal behaviour. In stark contrast to the legitimate protest, which has driven democracy in states such as Egypt, or raised political questions in Western states, a new form of mass-crime has brought massive property damage, injury and death.
…the evolution of police weapons and tactics has become necessary and justified. To support responders, policy-makers must establish new systems to rapidly stop a peaceful gathering from becoming a criminal free-for-all, while protecting a vital right to free expression.” Continue reading
At least three people have died in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after inhaling toxic tear gases. Reports suggest that, in addition to CS gas made by Combined Systems Inc (CSI) and other American and British companies, Egyptian security forces have used other, stronger gases against protesters, such as the illegal CR gas. Meanwhile in Palestine, yet another person was killed by a high-velocity gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers during a weekly demonstration in the village of Nabi Saleh. Continue reading
Click here for a podcast of Corporate Watch’s interview with Dissident Island Radio on the use of Palestine as a testing ground for ‘non-lethal’ weapons.
In the light of the recent death of Jawaher Abu Rahma through tear gas inhalation (see http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/1080/ ) Ryan Olander takes a look at the history of systematic ‘non-lethal weapon’ usage by Israel against Palestinians.
American toxic tear gas used by the Israelis
Jamal Shukeirat, resident of East Jerusalem, was a young man on the 26th of September 1988; 23 years old. For most people his age, September is a month to return to university or begin thinking about harvest. However, his life was cut short this day. Jamal was shot directly in the head with a large and heavy tear gas round by the Israeli Military. 
It is illegal under international law to use propelled tear gas in this way. An addendum of the Chemical Weapons Convention (of which Israel is a signatory ) states: “And, as toxic chemicals, RCA [riot control agents] are subject to the requirement that their types and quantities must be consistent with their purpose. This implies that the munitions or devices used to deliver RCA must also be consistent with that purpose.”  The reason it is considered a “less-than-lethal” weapon is because its dispersal effects come as the CS gas they burn are inhaled. This causes nausea, loss of breath and impaired vision. Many times the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) use this weapon as projectile to strike nonviolent activists. Instead of firing these heavy metal canisters indirectly and in a gentle arc, the IOF fires them directly at Palestinians, Israelis and internationals. Continue reading
Tear gas canisters fired from a vehicle mounted launcher during a weekly demonstration in Bil In Photo courtesy of Bil In Popular Committee
“The Israeli government and its army have been for years now using the West Bank and Gaza as their testing ground. The Palestinians are their guinea pigs. The Israeli army uses tear gas that would probably be banned in any other countries in the world. They shoot tear gas, directly at protesters, once again, an illegal act. But a very rewarding one. Israel’s security industry is booming. It’s never been this good. Countries all over the world are buying Israel’s expertise in security, crowd control and weaponry every day. Israeli soldiers are training other countries commandos all over the planet”
From the blog, Bil’in: A Village of Palestine, 02/01/11
Jawaher Abu Rahma - Killed by teargas inhalation on 31/12/10 - Photo by Oren Ziv, Active Stills
Bassem Abu Rahma - Killed by an impact wound from a Teargas canister fired at him while demonstrating in Bil In in April 2009 - Photo from Active Stills
On New Year’s Eve 2010, whilst much of the world was celebrating, over a thousand people demonstrated in the Palestinian village of Bil’in against Israel’s encroachment on the village’s land, Israeli tear gas and rubber bullets rained down on the protesters and Jawaher Abu Rahma, who had joined the march to the apartheid wall and retreated to the sidelines after the first Israeli volleys of gas, choked to death as gas enveloped the village.
A report from Bil’in residents said that “Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas from the moment protestors entered their sight. It is obvious that for the army, the mere presence of unarmed demonstrators is reason enough to use chemical weapons against them.”. Continue reading
The mass mobilisation against September’s G20 Summit in Pittsburgh was met with a characteristically brutal response from US Homeland ‘Security’. In many ways, police repression of UK protests pales in comparison to American political policing, with activists being routinely arrested under various terrorism-related charges and local and federal law enforcement agencies rolling out military style operations, complete with temporary detention facilities and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars each. The Pittsburgh police, however, may well have distinguished themselves as hitting a new low in the erosion of US civil liberty. Alongside US police staples such as rubber bullets, tear gas and ‘flash bang’ stun grenades, the Pittsburgh authorities unleashed an acoustic weapon, one of a new generation of ‘non-lethal’ military devices, used not only to disperse and intimidate protesters, but to gain control over their behaviour. Continue reading