Stephen Lendman

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Health Hazards to Palestinians from Toxic Tear Gas Exposure

Health Hazards to Palestinians from Toxic Tear Gas Exposure

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)

In parts of Occupied Palestine, it's near-daily exposure. A new study by UC Berkeley's School of Law, titled "No Safe Space" examines the "health consequences of tear gas exposure among Palestinian refugees."

It calls the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem perhaps the most exposed place in the world to toxic tear gas hazards, saying Israeli forces carry out "widespread, frequent (and) indiscriminate" use of it against camp residents - a high crime against humanity gone unpunished.

Dheisheh camp residents were also surveyed. On the other side of Bethlehem, its population exceeds 15,000, crammed into less than a third of a km.

UC Berkeley researchers surveyed 236 Aida camp residents, along with 10 focus groups in both camps, the study conducted last August. Random sampling was conducted for statistical accuracy.

All respondents experienced tear gas exposure in the past year, the report stating:

"We found that the constant and unpredictable use of tear gas in Palestine refugee camps has a devastating effect on the mental and physical health of residents."

The report's co-author, Dr. Rohani Haar is a Physician for Human Rights member. Tear gas is especially harmful on children, pregnant women, the elderly and ill, she explained.

"Aida camp has the appearance of a densely populated urban slum," home for about 6,400 Palestinians, the equivalent of 90,000 persons crammed into one square km. It has no medical facilities.

In addition to 100% of respondents indicating exposure to toxic tear gas, 87% were exposed to stun grenades, 85% to toxic skunk water, and 54% to pepper spray.

Most respondents witnessed use of rubber-coated steel bullets and live fire. Nearly a fourth of those interviewed were struck by a tear gas canister earlier, their force able to cause serious injury.

"Medical examinations yielded testimonies of fainting, seizures, miscarriages, and other concerning events," the report explained, along with "breathing difficulties (including asthma), coughing, dizziness, rashes, severe pain, allergic dermatitis, headaches and neurological irritability, blunt trauma from canister injuries, and more."

Mental health of respondents was adversely affected, including "high levels of anxiety…depression, sleep disruption, acute stress responses, and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder."

Data was consistent across all groups surveyed - men, women and children of all ages.

Frequency of oppressive Israeli raids terrorize camp residents. Tear gas entering schools disrupts classes, making teaching and learning impossible much of the time.

Camp residents greatly fear the effects of longterm toxic exposure. According to the report, "tear gas currently being used is much more potent, long lasting, and dangerous than that used in previous years…caus(ing) worse and longer lasting side effects."

Remedial recommendations made fall on deaf ears - Israel unconcerned about the welfare of persecuted Palestinians.

Harming them brutally tries forcing them to leave the Territories, leaving land they vacate free for exclusive Jewish development and use.

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