As you may recall, a 21-year old American student at Cooper Union lost an eye after getting hit in the face with a tear gas projectile during a checkpoint demonstration in Israel in May. Artist Emily Henochowicz was doing a semester abroad when she got involved with the International Solidarity Movement, and on May 31st she joined a demonstration against the the deaths of pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Rocks were thrown at Israeli border police, who, according to witness accounts, fired tear gas canisters directly at the protesters.
Henochowicz, who was holding a Turkish and American flag and was not near the rock throwers, was hit in the eye. "The IDF maintains that the tear-gas canister bounced off a wall, and that they acted impeccably—but what wall? Where?" Henochowicz asks in this week's Village Voice cover story. Avi Issacharoff, an Israeli journalist from the newspaper Haaretz, witnessed the incident and says, "The police fired a tear-gas grenade, and then another and another. I remember that what surprised me was the volley of grenade fire directly aimed directly at the demonstrators, not at the sky."
Now back in the U.S., Henochowicz has been putting a brave face on the injury, and says, "The cool thing about this is that paintings look more 3-D to me now. It's your stereoscopic vision that makes paintings appear flat. I guess I can be grateful to the IDF for giving me the chance to see the world in a new way." But she's just beginning a legal battle with Israel over her hospital bills.
Her father, who was born in Israel to Holocaust survivors whom he described as "ardent Zionists," tells the Times he's received a letter from Israel's Ministry of Defense explaining that the government would not cover the medical bills because border police dealt lawfully with the “violent protest at Qalandiya,” and that the firing of tear gas was justified. The family's lawyer replied, "It is insolent and preposterous to expect someone who was shot by the security forces, whether unintentionally, negligently or with criminal intention, to fund her own medical treatment."