Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Israeli Civil Rights Group Seeks Investigation over Use of Tear Gas

September 13, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Civil Rights Association has asked the Israel Defense Force to investigate the alleged unauthorized use of tear gas by soldiers against students at a girls’ high school in the West Bank town of Halhoul on Sept. 5.

About 250 girls became ill from gas inhalation, the association stated in a letter to Gen, Yitzhak Mordechai, commander of the central sector, which includes the West Bank.

Several dozen of the students were seriously affected, the letter said, and many more were thrown into panic by rumors that the gas would make them infertile.

The letter also charged that the soldiers used obscene language.

An IDF spokesman said the soldiers fired tear gas only after the girls rioted and threw stones into the main road of the town.

The spokesman said no more than 20 of the students suffered from gas inhalation.

Those that did inhale the gas were treated at a local hospital and sent home.

The spokesman also denied that the gas could affect fertility, saying it was approved by the army’s chief medical officer.

Nevertheless, IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Shomron took the unusual step this week of reminding his troops to exercise restraint in the use of force.

A memorandum distributed to soldiers serving in the West Bank and Gaza Strip stressed that force may be used only when necessary to accomplish a certain mission and never as a punitive measure.

Shomron outlawed specifically torture, humiliation or deliberate damage to property.

His circular was initiated by the legal establishment following a trial at which soldiers were convicted of manslaughter at the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza.


In other developments Tuesday, a young Arab sustained a serious head wound when security forces broke up disturbances in the West Bank village of Sebastia.

An Israeli railroad fireman was slightly injured when his Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train was stoned near Batir, south of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem District Court imposed a 10-year prison sentence on a teen-age Arab girl for manslaughter in the slaying of yeshiva student Eliezer Schlesinger in a Jerusalem park in the summer of 1988.

Two of the three presiding judges ruled that the girl, who was 17 at the time and described as a prostitute, did not have the capacity for premeditated murder.

A court psychiatrist put her mental age at 10.

The prosecution, which intends to appeal the sentence, contends that Schlesinger and a friend were studying late at night in Jerusalem’s Sacker Park when they were abruptly solicited by the defendant.

When Schlesinger declined, she pulled out a gun and shot him once.

The, as he lay on the ground, she shot the Yeshiva student four more times, the prosecution said.

Recommended from JTA