Solidarity with Tristan Anderson

You may have heard about the injury of Tristan Anderson in the West Bank town of Ni’lin, Palestine. Tristan is a fellow activist from Oakland, who I’ve known through organizing and community building over the past few years. He has  friends in London who love and value his spirit and actions.

Tristan has spent plenty of time defending his own backyard, sowing seeds and tending communities. And like so many others, he took his skills and compassion to other places, like Oaxaca and Palestine.

Tristan was shot in the head with a long range tear gas canister on Friday, March 13th at a demonstration against the apartheid wall in Ni’lin, Palestine. This caused him critical injury to his face, eye and brain. Israeli soldiers continued to fire tear gas directly at the medics attempting to evacuate Tristan. His ambulance was also detained. He was eventually transferred from a Palestinian ambulance to an Israeli ambulance so that he could receive treatment in Israel.

Although the village of Ni’lin lies within the West Bank, the wall cuts the village from 300 acres of its olive groves. This process has been repeated across the West Bank, perhaps most famously at Bil’in, which lies two miles southeast of Ni’lin.

The construction of the wall inside the West Bank actively redefines the borders of Palestine. Towns such as Qalqilya are enclosed up to 320 degrees with Israeli soldier staffed checkpoints offering the only exits. This is all within the West Bank. These aren’t folks trying to cross into Israel or even Jerusalem. These are people attempting to go to their own fields or into neighbouring West Bank towns. It’s these ordinary people that solidarity activists often seek to defend.

Tristan was shot in the head by a ‘non-leathal weapon’. In my experience, the IDF uses tear gas ruthlessly and in excess. These regular, coordinated demonstrations are blatantly used as training grounds for new soldiers, who the IDF knows incur no risk of injury from non-violent demonstrators be they foreign, Palestinian, or Israeli. I’ve witnessed the use of concussion grenades, two types of tear gas canisters, rubber coated steele bullets, batons, truncheons, and live bullets at these demos. The experimental use of new weapons at demonstrations has been catalogued by ISM and B’Tselem. The same weapon that struck Tristan previously broke a man’s leg in Ni’lin. These bullet-shaped canisters are meant to be shot toward the sky in an arc, allowing them to fall, not to make a direct hit on the crowd.

One boy (Ahmed Mousa, 10) and 3 young men (Yousef Amira, 17; Arafat Rateb Khawaje, 22;  Mohammed Khawaje, 20) have died in Ni’lin since resistance against the wall began there 10 months ago. Many more have been injured as they struggle to keep their olive groves, which are an important source of their livelihoods and culture.

I’m writing this to bring awareness about Tristan’s injury, but also about the struggle that took him to Palestine. I’m writing this on the 6th anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie, an American activist who was killed in Gaza when an Israeli soldier ran over her with a Caterpillar bulldozer. The violence in Gaza over the New Year inspired renewed calls for boycotts of Israeli products. We should all boycott Israeli goods in honor of the activists and civilians that have suffered because of the occupation and war.

According to his family, Tristan’s condition seems to be improving. He’s demonstrated that he knows who is with him and that he can respond to the question of doctors and friends. A solidarity demonstration will take place this afternoon in San Francisco, outside the Israeli Consulate. For more information on the demo or to see Tristan’s reporting over the past few years, see


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