After more than a year in a Tel Aviv hospital, Bay Area activist and photo-journalist Tristan Anderson has returned home to California. Tristan was critically injured when he was shot in the head at close range with a metal high-velocity tear gas canister at the Israeli Separation Wall on March 13, 2009, while taking photos following a demonstration against the apartheid wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. The shooting caused severe traumatic brain injury and blindness in his right eye. Tristan, 39 years old, has not yet regained the use of the left side of his body and faces a long period of cognitive and physical rehabilitation and remains in a wheelchair. However, in the last several months he has made significant strides forward, including regaining his ability to speak. He is currently staying at his family’s home in the Sierra foothills, and looking forward to reuniting with his extensive community in the Bay Area.Tristan’s partner Gabrielle Silverman said, “After a very long period of hospitalization, Tristan is ready to finally re-enter the world. His injury has profoundly affected our community and changed our lives. In the winter of 2009, Tristan and I traveled to the Occupied Territories because we had an understanding of the role the U.S. government plays in the Israel/Palestine conflict and power dynamics there. We both support a free Palestine and a just peace and stability in the Middle East and see it as a defining struggle of our generation.
Just prior to the one-year mark of the shooting, Israel released its official report of the incident, calling it “an act of war”, with no concomitant liability, bringing no charges, and then closed the case. An appeal to reopen the investigation has been filed, since the report was inconsistent with the injuries Tristan sustained and with eyewitness testimony. In addition, his parents have brought a civil case against the Israeli military, in part to deal with the lifetime of medical expenses, lost wages and continuing care that Tristan will need as a result of the military action.
On May 31, 21-year-old New York art student Emily Henochowicz lost an eye in a similar act of aggression by Israeli military when she was shot in the face with a tear gas canister at a demonstration in the West Bank. She was protesting the Israeli commando raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla during which nine Flotilla human rights activists were killed.
Tristan Anderson has participated as a photo-journalist and as a dedicated activist in a variety of local and international campaigns over the years, including Latin American solidarity work, anti-war activism, involvement in forest campaigns including Headwaters Forest and the 2-year long Save the Oaks tree-sit campaign on UC Berkeley campus, as well as serving food to the homeless with Food Not Bombs for years, and riding with Critical Mass bicycle activists.