Under Pressure, U.S. Company to Limit Tear-Gas Sales to Israel
Under pressure from Arab-American groups, the largest American manufacturer of tear gas has ended shipments of the product to Israel and will not make additional sales unless the Jerusalem government agrees not to use the riot-control agent in buildings or other closed areas where it can cause severe illness or death, a spokeswoman said Friday.
Burl Alison, vice president of TransTechnology Corp. of Sherman Oaks, Calif., said a company subsidiary has completed its current contract to supply tear gas to Israel, which uses it to disperse Palestinian protests in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Alison said the firm would only fill additional orders from Israel “if there are assurances (that the gas will not be misused) or if we can ascertain the intent of the Israelis in the use of the tear gas. . . . We made the statement in the interest of trying to determine if our product is used properly.”
Company officials declined to say how much tear gas the subsidiary, Federal Laboratories, sells to Israel, but it is believed to be one of the nation’s chief suppliers.
The firm has been under pressure from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Faris Bouhafa of the committee has charged that tear gas has contributed to the deaths of some of the more than 170 Arabs killed during the current West Bank and Gaza uprising. The group has conducted demonstrations at a Federal Laboratories plant in Pennsylvania.
The TransTechnology board of directors, meeting in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Va., voted this week to endorse the new policy proposed by Chairman Arch Scurlock.