At the end of last week, Jawaher Abu Rahma died. It was the day when there was a large protest at the security fence outside of her village of Bil’in. The IDF used tear gas to dispel protesters who were throwing rocks at troops and using wire cutters to dismantle part of the fencing in the area. Jawaher Abu Rahma’s brother Abdullah is one of the main organizers of the protests in Bil’in, but Jawaher was evidently not among those protesting that day. She is said to have been watching from a distance with her mother. It seems that she had been ill with an undisclosed illness and even went to the hospital in the days prior, likely a significant illness that made her susceptible to tear gas to such an extent that it appears she reacted to it with respiratory failure and died. You may find reports about the event and Abu Rahma’s death from many sources such as the New York Times here andÂ AFP here among them.Â But there are serious problems with the story as described by Ynetnews here, by Israelmatsav here, Barry Rubin here and Honest Reporting here among the many places where inconsistencies are laid out.
Palestinian reports make it sound like some new extra-toxic tear gas was used and that Abu Rahma died solely because of it. Yet, her distance from the bulk of the protesters would make any assertion that her death was caused by exposure to tear gas alone seem absurd. Surely those involved in the protest and amid the highest concentrations of the tear gas would have suffered the worst effects from it. Yet, no other similar illness from the gas was reported. Abu Rahma’s death was unique in that regard.
There are multiple different accounts circulating about what happened and the timing of her hospitalization as well as disagreements as to whether or not Abu Rahma had been substantially ill. The fact is that she must have had some condition that made her and her alone particularly susceptible to the tear gas that day. Tear gas alone does not kill unless it is breathed in an enclosed space in a dosage that is substantially more potent than that which would be used to disperse even a violent riot. People do not die from exposure to tear gas in an open space unless they are in a weakened state, such as suffering from asthma. But asthma does not simply appear overnight and Abu Rahma certainly would have encountered tear gas before at earlier protests. This would lead a reasonable person to conclude that another medical condition must have been present. The Palestinian Authority refused to allow an autopsy that would have determined the actual cause of death for the simple reason that it wished to accuse Israel of having perpetrated a war crime and did not care to find out that she died primarily because of something else.
It is clear that there is a belief in the Arab world these days that Israel and Jews are capable of virtually anything conceivable using technology. Saudi Arabia, just yesterday, arrested a vulture which it accused of being a spy for the Mossad because it was tagged with a Tel Aviv University band and had a GPS tracker. So much for Saudi concerns about science. Medieval thought wins out. Where am I going with this? Well, in the case of Abu Rahma, no one else died. No one else even became ill. This cannot be said enough times. For the tear gas alone to have led directly to her death, Israel would have had to find a way to create a new form of tear gas that affected her alone to a degree that no tear gas has ever affected anyone in history. Yet, throughout the Arab world the charge that Israel committed a war crime by murdering Abu Rahma with tear gas is being told. This is an absurdity.
Any sane person looking at the facts will immediately realize that while tear gas may have set off a preexisting medical problem that led to her death, clearly it could not have been the sole or even primary cause because no one else suffered similar effects at that place at that time and particularly not among those who were closest to the highest concentrations of gas, namely those taking part in the protest. To make the claim that Israel killed Abu Rahma is to think Medievally, to avoid science and reason. Hatred of the enemy does this. Hatred blinds. However, 1+1 does not ever equal 3.
Abu Rahma must have died from some undisclosed or undiscovered medical condition that was perhaps complicated by inhaling tear gas. Moreover, if she did die from a preexisting condition complicated by exposure to tear gas and if she was not observing the rioting going on while standing in an area where she could be affected by tear gas, she might still be alive.Â That is the truth as I see it. It is that simple.