The United States has asked Israel to investigate the incident in which an American woman lost an eye after Israeli forces shot her with a tear gas canister during a pro-Palestinian protest in Jerusalem, a U.S. embassy spokesman said Monday.
Emily Henochowicz, a 21-year-old visual arts student from Potomac, Md., and a dual Israeli-American citizen, was struck in the face by a canister fired by a policeman during a violent demonstration on May 31 against Israel's deadly naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists. Nine activists were killed in the raid on the same day.
"We have talked to the Israelis about getting the details on the situation as soon as possible," said U.S. embassy spokesman Kurt Hoyer.
Henochowicz's family also demanded action.
"We demand a full and transparent investigation from the Israeli government. Certainly, we want an apology," Henochowicz's mother Shelley Kreitman, 54, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "She's a beautiful young girl and she's been maimed for life."
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel is fully cooperating with the U.S. request for an investigation but said an apology would be forthcoming only if the inquiry shows Israel was at fault.
Henochowicz, an artist whose chief icon on her Internet blog is a large eyeball, returned to the U.S. over the weekend and couldn't immediately be reached for comment. Her lawyer, Michael Sfard said he filed a complaint demanding a criminal investigation of the incident.
Jonathan Pollak, an Israeli activist who took part in the same protest, said Henochowicz was hit as a few Palestinian youths hurled rocks at a checkpoint in northern Jerusalem.
Footage captured by a Russian television channel posted onto YouTube shows the young woman walking with a Turkish flag — in solidarity with the many Turkish activists who tried to sail to Gaza. She is seen several yards (meters) away from rock-throwing youths, falls down and is dragged away, bleeding profusely.
Israeli police spokesman Moshe Fintzy said an initial investigation said the tear gas was fired "according to procedures and there was no deviation from those procedures."
A report in the Israeli daily Haaretz said a police investigation indicated that the tear gas canister bounced off a wall and exploded close to Henochowicz's face. They quoted an official as saying that police did not aim at the woman.
But Sarit Michaeli, the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, said police and soldiers often fire tear gas canisters directly at people — a practice she called "illegal and dangerous."
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