CSi Combined Systems Incorporated

CSi Combined Systems Incorporated

Steve JOHNSON CALLS CSI - NEW JERSEY OFFICE

 

Tell Combined Systems Inc. to stop selling tear gas to Israel

7 January 2011

The Israeli military uses tear gas cannisters as anti-personnel weaponry against unarmed demonstrators. (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)

Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East issued the following edited action alert on 6 January 2010:

On 1 January 2011, 36-year-old Palestinian Jawaher Abu Rahmah from the West Bank village of Bilin died at a hospital from the effects of tear gas inhalation suffered at a protest the previous day against Israel’s construction of a wall and settlements on Bilin’s land. Jawaher is only the most recent protester killed or seriously injured by tear gas fired by the Israeli military. For example, Jawaher’s brother Bassem was killed almost two years ago, and two US citizens, Tristan Anderson and Emily Henochowicz were injured in 2009-2010.

Much of Israel’s tear gas is provided by the US company Combined Systems Inc. (CSI) located in Jamestown, Pennsylvania. The letters CSI, or CTS, a CSI brand name, are marked on many of tear gas canisters that litter Palestinian villages after they protest. The Israeli military is using CSI’s tear gas as a weapon as it tries to crush the growing movement of unarmed protest against Israel’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. Even more disturbing, US taxpayers are paying for at least some of the tear gas that Israel is shooting at Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters. For example, in 2007 and 2008, the US State Department provided $1.85 million worth of “tear gasses and riot control agents” to Israel as part of the US’s $3 billion in annual military aid to Israel.

Act now by emailing executives at CSI, and at the companies that invest in CSI, the Carlyle Group and Point Lookout Capital, and tell them to stop providing their tear gas to the Israeli military, before more protesters are killed and maimed.

The Israeli military has a documented history of deliberately firing tear canisters directly at unarmed protesters, and of blanketing entire villages in clouds of tear gas whenever they hold protests against Israeli land seizure. Jawaher’s brother Bassem Abu Rahmah was killed in April 2009 when he was hit in the chest with an extended range CSI tear gas canister fired directly at him by an Israeli soldier, according to B’Tselem. In the villages of Bilin and Nilin alone, 18 persons have been directly hit by extended range CSI tear gas canisters. Bilin resident Khamis Abu Rahmah suffered a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage after being shot in the back of his head. An Israeli soldier shot California resident Tristan Anderson directly in the head with a high velocity tear gas canister in a March 2009 protest in Nilin, leaving Tristan partially handicapped and suffering slight cognitive damage. New York City college student Emily Henochowicz lost her left eye when an Israeli soldier shot her directly in the face with an aluminum tear gas canister at a May 2010 protest at the Qalandiya checkpoint.

And no one knows the long-term health impact for residents of villages like Bilin and Nilin, and their Israeli supporters, who have been blanketed in tear gas at least once a week over a period of years, each time they hold their weekly protests against Israel’s confiscation of their villages’ land for Israel’s wall and settlements.

Send an email to Combined Systems Inc.

Protest at Combined Systems Inc (CSI), in solidarity with #Tahrir #Egypt #Jan25

Video shot by Nigel Parry on Dec 1st, 2011. Footage includes reading of statement and symbolic march inside plant to attempt to deliver it. This is the first of a series of planned protests at CSI, who produce weapons that are used dangerously and lethally in Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, Libya and the United States to suppress peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations. If CSI had been around during the American Revolution, it would have been supplying tear gas to the British.

ORIGINAL CALL TEXT FROM DEFENDEGYPT.ORG WEBSITE

Take Action to Defend the Egyptian Revolution!

The movement of the 99% of the United States and others who stand in solidarity with the Egyptian people have been called upon by comrades in Tahrir Square to take action against the businesses and institutions in our country that are aiding in the repression of the grassroots democratic movement there.

"The army and police rely on tear gas, bullets and weapons from abroad," reads a call written on November 22 by Mosireen, Comrades from Cairo. "No doubt their stock has been replenished by US and other governments over the last nine months."

Combined Systems Incorporated, located in northwest Pennsylvania, is one of the main suppliers of such "less-lethal" weapons to the Egyptian state; their tear gas canisters have littered the streets of Cairo. CSI and their allies in the U.S. State Department, who must approve the sales of their weapons to foreign governments, are complicit in crimes against humanity. They have consistently facilitated the repression of grassroots democratic movements not only in Egypt, but also in the U.S. itself, as well as in Tunisia, Greece, Palestine, Yemen, and other places.

"They are sponsoring terror against the egyptian people," says a comrade in Cairo. "The army shot at them while the people were praying... the US is partly responsible for this."

We are responding with action: On December 1st, participants from "Occupy" encampments from around the region will converge on the CSI's weapons production factory in Jamestown, PA (388 Kinsman Road Jamestown, PA), shuttles will be provided from the intersection of Main St and Liberty St in downtown Jamestown. At the same time, others will gather at the Egyptian Consulate in New York City for a march and action.

We will make sure the people of Egypt hear our message; We are with you, our government's actions do not represent the desires of our people, and we will take action against businesses and institutions that aid in the repression of our movements; We will defend the Egyptian revolution!

 

 

 

Combined Systems Inc., Stop Providing Equipment that Israel Misuses to Kill and Maim Unarmed Protesters

TO:

Combined Systems, Inc.
Jamestown, Pennsylvania

 

FROM:

Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (adalahny.org)

CodePink: Women for Peace (www.codepink4peace.org)

Jewish Voice for Peace (www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org)

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (www.endtheoccupation.org)

 

DATE: January 3, 2011

 

Dear Combined Systems Inc.,

As US groups committed to justice and peace, we are writing to ask that Combined Systems Inc. cease providing CSI equipment to the Israeli government in response to the Israeli military’s ongoing and foreseeable misuse of CSI crowd control equipment to kill and maim protesters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli military has demonstrated a pattern of misuse of your equipment, directly leading to the death and injury of unarmed demonstrators in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Over the last two years alone, the Israeli military has used your products to kill two peaceful protesters from one family in the West Bank village of Bil’in, to severely injure two peaceful protesters from the US, and to seriously injure many more. According to the the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, two other Palestinians were killed by Israeli tear gas in 2002.[1]

As noted on CSI’s website, “Israeli Military Industries” are among CSI’s “military customers and development partners.” CSI has an ethical and legal responsibility to ensure that the Israeli government is using CSI products according to product guidelines. Unfortunately, the Israeli military has a well-documented track record of systematically using excessive force against civilians, including with CSI products as outlined below, and thus is not an appropriate customer for CSI.

Furthermore, it is our understanding that the tear gas sent by CSI to the Israeli military may be provided as part of the US government's military aid to Israel. For example, for 2007 and 2008, the US State Department approved the commercial sale of $1.85 million worth of "tear gases and riot control agents" to the Israeli government.[2] As taxpayers, we strongly object to the possibility that CSI may be using our tax dollars to support Israel's repression of Palestinian rights.

Most recently, on December 31st, 2010, Israeli soldiers fired what was described by multiple eyewitnesses as excessive tear gas at protesters in the West Bank village of Bil’in, resulting in the death of 36 year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah from Bil’in. Around 1,000 Palestinians, Israelis and foreigners were demonstrating in Bil’in that day against Israel’s construction of a wall through village land, separating residents from their livelihoods in violation of international law. According to Jawaher’s mother Subhiyeh who was with her at the time, “We weren't even very close to them and the soldiers fired tear gas at us… Jawaher told me that her chest hurt and she couldn't breathe. Then she fell down and started vomiting."[3] Jawaher was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where she died the next morning from cardiac arrest. Protesters gathered tear gas canisters used by Israeli soldiers at the December 31st protest, including one very common canister with the letters CTS written on it.[4] CTS, short for Combined Tactical Systems, is a brand name of CSI.[5]

Tragically, Jawaher Abu Rahmah was the second person in her family to be killed by tear gas that was

apparently provided to the Israeli army by CSI. Jawaher’s brother Bassem Abu Rahmah was killed on April 17, 2009 at a peaceful protest in Bil’in when he was hit directly in the chest by a CSI tear gas canister fired from a gun by an Israeli soldier. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reported in an April 21, 2009 letter to the Israeli military’s Judge Advocate General that the direct firing of tear gas at protesters was common practice and violated both Israeli open-fire regulations and CSI product instructions, saying, “The Open‐Fire Regulations require that tear‐gas grenades fired from a launcher be carried out by indirect fire, with the barrel of the rifle aimed upwards at a sixty‐degree angle. The Website of CSI, the American company that manufactures the extended range grenades, explicitly points out that the grenades are not to be fired at individuals, since doing so is liable to cause injury or death.”[6] West Bank protesters have collected examples of CSI extended range grenades that were fired at protesters (see sample photo below from 2009). In response to an Israeli reporter's submitted query, an Israeli army spokesperson has confirmed in writing that the extended range projectiles are produced by CSI. CSI’s website also explains that these canisters are intended to break indoor barricades.[7] Different CSI products are labeled for outdoor use.

B’Tselem further documented that among those hit by extended range canisters fired directly at

protesters was US citizen Tristan Anderson in March 2009. According to B’Tselem, “On 13 March, a Border Police officer fired an extended-range type tear-gas canister that struck Tristan Anderson, an American citizen, during a demonstration in Ni'ilin. B'Tselem's investigation reveals that the police officer fired the canister directly at Anderson from 60 meters away… The grenade struck him in the forehead, fracturing his skull and injuring the front lobe of his brain.”[8] He is left partially handicapped and suffers slight cognitive damage.” The canister “caused severe traumatic brain injury and blindness in his right eye.”[9] Anderson, who remains in a wheelchair, “has not yet regained the use of the left side of his body.”[10]

In a September, 2010 report, The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, a coordinating body for unarmed demonstrations in the West Bank, noted that, “According to Palestinian Red Crescent records in Bil'in and Ni'ilin, 18 people have been directly shot at and hit by the high velocity projectiles since their introduction, in these two villages alone.”[11] In addition to the killing of Bassem Abu Rahmah and injury of Tristan Anderson, other severe injuries include those to Bil'in resident Khamis Abu Rahmah who “suffered a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage after being struck in the back of his head with an extended range tear gas projectile. “

Another US citizen, 21-year-old Emily Henochowicz, lost her left eye when an Israeli soldier fired an aluminum tear gas canister directly at her, striking her face during a West Bank protest on May 31, 2010.[12] Protesters have also collected numerous aluminum tear gas canisters with CSI and CTS initials on them that were fired by Israeli soldiers at protesters (see below).

Though B’Tselem reported on May 4, 2009 that Israel’s Judge Advocate General forbade the firing of tear gas canisters directly at protesters, [13] the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee[14] and the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz[15] documented in December 2010 that the Israeli military has continued to fire extended range tear gas canisters directly at protesters.

Reports by diverse human rights groups including B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch[16] and the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict[17] have documented Israel’s use of excessive and lethal force against civilians. These reports, and the cases cited above of Israel’s specific misuse of CSI products, demonstrate clearly that CSI cannot rely on the Israeli military to use CSI products in an appropriate manner without undue death and severe injury to civilians. Therefore, CSI is obligated to end its sale of these products to the Israeli government.

Thank you for your attention to this issue. We look forward to your response.

 


 

[1] http://btselem.org/english/statistics/

[2] http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/asmp/factsandfigures/government_data_index.html#655

[3] http://www.aolnews.com/2011/01/02/palestinian-protester-jawaher-abu-rahmah-dies-from-tear-gas-inha/

[4] Photo above resembles this CSI/CTS model: http://combinedsystems.com/less-lethal/Flash-Bang/Flash-Bangs-Tear-Ball.aspx

[5] http://www.combinedsystems.com/About_us.aspx, see CTS products: http://combinedsystems.com/less-lethal/CTS%20Catalog%202009.pdf

[6] http://www.btselem.org/Download/20090421_Letter_to_JAG_concerning_the_shooting_of_Bassem_Abu_Rahmah_English.pdf

[7] http://combinedsystems.com/less-lethal/Chemical-Munitions/Chemical-Munitions-40mm-Penetrators.aspx

[8] http://www.btselem.org/English/Firearms/20090318_Firing_of_Tear_Gaz_at_Demonstrators.asp

[9] http://www.democracynow.org/2010/11/16/in_first_interview_since_critical_injury

[10] http://justicefortristan.org/

[11] http://www.popularstruggle.org/content/under-repression

[12] http://www.democracynow.org/2010/8/5/exclusiveemily_henochowicz_speaks_out_art_student

[13] http://combinedsystems.com/less-lethal/CTS%20Catalog%202009.pdf

[14] http://www.popularstruggle.org/content/demonstrator-suffers-head-injury-after-being-hit-directly-tear-gas-projectile-nabi-saleh

[15] http://www.popularstruggle.org/content/idf-resumes-use-prohibited-tear-gas-canisters

[16] http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2005/06/21/promoting-impunity-0

[17] http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf

CSI: Merchant of Death and Servant of Tyranny

Posted on January 6, 2012

The following information about CSI, the Pennsylvania-based tear gas manufacturer whose empty canisters have littered the streets of Egypt after being used against popular protests, was collected by Werner Lange:

“The severity has increased.  They are using a different type of gas which makes the patient go into convulsions and repeated vomiting”

-Dr. Osam Sadar, Field Clinic Doctor in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, talking about effects of CSI tear gas used on Egyptian protesters, Nov. 28, 2011

CSI Corporate Officers and Operations:

CSI (Combined Systems, Incorporated) was founded in 1981 by two Israelis, Jacob Kravel and Michael Brunn, who still function as its President and Vice President, respectively.  It was incorporated as a for-profit business on March 19, 1981 in the State of New York and has since been registered as a “foreign corporation” (i.e. out-of-state) to conduct business in Florida and Pennsylvania.  Its agent in Florida is SRT Supply, a major international weapons supply corporation, and its primary manufacturing facilities are located in a rural setting just outside of the small town of Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

Combined Systems (Israel) is the CSI subsidiary in Israel, which, on its corporate registration, lists Kravel and Brunn among its Directors along with their Israeli National ID.  CSI supplies its products to the Israeli army, police force, prison system and the Israeli Rafael Armament Development Authority.  CSI tear gas and high-velocity projectiles are routinely used by the Israeli army, occasionally with lethal effect, to disperse protesters against Israeli occupation and tyranny in the West Bank.

Combined Systems Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CTS-CSI Holdings Inc.  10% or more of CTS-CSI Holdings Inc. is owned by Carlyle Mezzaine Partners, L.P. and 10% or more of CTS-CSI Holdings Inc. is owned by Point Lookout Capital Partners L.P. (PLCP). Managing Partners of Point Lookout, Michael Monteleone and James Cesare, are both members of an advisory board for F.N.B. Capital Corp. of Pittsburgh.  In 2005, PLCP acquired a majority interest in CSI with the Carlyle Group and in 2008 it acquired Penn Arms, a weapons manufacturer based in Punxsutawney, PA.

CTS (Combined Tactical Systems) is a branch of CSI which specializes in so-called “less lethal” munitions and tear gas used for “crowd and riot control”, whereas the military branch of CSI produces weaponry for military forces such as the high explosive FRAG-12 ammunition and the VENOM munitions systems.  According to a CTS brochure, “products manufactured by Combined Tactical Systems are less-lethal force options.  Less-lethal options are intended to cause varying degrees of pain and injury…In rare circumstances, less-lethal options may cause death or serious bodily injury.” Indeed.

CSI/CTS product fatalities:

1.Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahmah, 30, was killed on April 17 (2009) when struck in his chest by a CSI 40mm model 4431 powder barricade-penetrating tear gas canister fired by an IDF soldier during protest in the Palestinian village of Bil’in.

2. Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 31, the sister of Bassem, was killed during another large protest in Bil’in against the Israeli apartheid wall on December 31 (2010).  Israeli soldiers shot scores of CSI tear gas canisters at the more than 1000 protesters unleashing large clouds of toxic CS gas into the air, one of which overcame Ms. Abu Rahmah , who collapsed and was taken to a Ramallah hospital for treatment.  She died from CS gas inhalation at 9am on January 1, 2011. Two manufacturers’ CS gas products were used, and one or both are responsible for Ms Abu Rahmah’s death.

3. A 32-year old photographer was killed in Tunisia after he was hit by a tear gas grenade at close range.

4. The Egyptian Health Ministry reported that seven people had died from asphyxiation caused by tear gas used against protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in November 2011.  The medicines used by field doctors to resuscitate earlier victims were ineffective at this time, suggesting a more lethal form of tear gas was being used against the demonstrators. The streets of Cairo (and other Egyptian cities) were littered with CTS 35/37mm CS smoke projectiles and canisters during these pro-democracy protests.  Non-governmental reports claim that at least two dozen persons were killed and hundreds more injured by this toxic gas in Egypt during November protests.

Ten Recent CSI Munitions Shipments to Tyrannies outside the USA:

 

 

Destination Date Purchase Price Munitions/Weapons Supplied by CSI
1.Israel

Israel Police
Chief Weapons Officer
Israel Prison System

April, 2008 $5,000,000 50,000 cartridges (CS,Smoke,Baton)
50,000 Riot Control Grenades (CS)
25,000 Flash Bang Grenades
100,000 12-guage cartridges
$111,000 2,000 CS/OS Grenade cartridges
1,000 Rubber Ball CS Hand Grenade
1,000 Tactical Flash Bang Grenades
1,000 CS/OS Sting-Ball Grenades
1,000 Flash Bang Training
1,000 Super-Stock Bean Bags
note: during 2007-08, the US State Dept. authorized $1.85 million for “tear gas and riot control” to Israel; CSI is a primary provider of tear gas to the IDF.
Mubarak’s Egypt
Weapons and Ammunition Dept.
Cairo
7/2008 $650,100 21,000 CS Smoke Hand Grenades with Fuze
21,000 CS Smoke Long Range Cartridges
4,000 CS Window Penetrating Cartridges
SCAF Egypt 4/2011
8/2011
10/2011
unknown
unknown
unknown
21 tons of ammunition to Port of Suez
17.9 tons of ammunition to Port Said
21 tons of ammunition to Port Ababiya
note: Egyptian dock workers initially refused to unload the third supply of munitions from CSI to Egyptian military rulers. The US government gave Egypt $1.2 million in 2009 for tear gas purchases with the congressionally imposed provision that purchase must be made from the USA; in 2010 the tear gas grant came to $1.7 million.
Guatemala
Policia Nacional Civil
Guatemala City
    January 2010 $506,000 10,000 CS Grenade Canisters
5,000 Smoke Grenade Canisters
5,000 CS Long Range Cartridges
4,000 Flash Bang Cartridges
10,000 Launching Cartridges 
Argentina
Ministerio de Justicia
     January 2010 $312,265  10,000 CS Cartridges
7,100 CS Grenades
3,200 Aerosol Grenades 
India
Ministry of Defense
January 2010 $129,276  25,200 electric minidenonators
East Timor 
Policia Nacional Timor Leste  
January 2010   $13,080     5  40mm Grenade Launchers 
100  MK-4 Pepper Spray Canisters 
Thailand
Royal Thai Navy  
     Sept. 2008        $10,050       1,005 Hand Grenade Fuzes 
Trinidad & Tobago    May 2008  $5,022 4 Tactical Tear Gas Launchers
24 CN Gas Long Range Cartridges
24 CS Gas Long Range Cartridges
Hong Kong
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
January 2010  $3,700 4 Single Shot 37mm Grenade Launchers
40 Foam Baton Cartridges
40 Muzzle Blast Cartridges
40 Flameless Expulsion CS Grenades 

 Litigation against CSI: 

1.Following a June 2007 inspection by EPA, CSI was cited for RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) violations that occurred between Oct. 2004 and June 2007  involving hazardous waste stored at the Jamestown facility, including: operating a hazardous waste closed storage facility without a permit; failure to keep containers of hazardous waste closed during storage; failure to conduct weekly inspections of central hazardous waste management; failure to document hazardous waste management training programs; failure to keep records of weekly storage facility inspections; failure to provide a containment system for hazardous waste; offering hazardous waste to unpermitted treatment,storage or disposal facilities; and failure to offer universal waste only to another universal waste handler.  CSI agreed to pay a $65,000 penalty in January 2010 to settle these numerous environmental law violations.

 2.In 2007 a lawsuit was filed against CSI for personal injury and product liability.  The plaintiff, Nels Cooper Brannan, was a decorated former US Marine who claimed that a defective CSI flash bang grenade cost him his finger/thumb and hearing loss. 3.Though not yet filed, evidence suggests that CSI may be in violation of the Foreign Appropriations Act, which, since 2001, carried the stipulation that no US funds are to go to any unit of a foreign country if there are gross violations of human rights. Note: A fire broke out in one of the CSI plants in Jamestown on November 15, 2011.  Although there were no reported injuries, the blaze was too much for the sprinkler system to handle and it took some 14 area fire departments several hours to extinguish this flame.“There have been a couple fires at the plant in the last ten years or so, including at least one that prompted officials to evacuate neighbors in the area because of the noxious fumes” (Tom Davidson, The Sharon Herald, 11/16/2011). 

Profile of CSI President and Founder, Jacob Kravel: 

Born on Jan. 16 (1950), likely in Israel;  married to Anat Kravel who was born in 1954 in Kibbutz Ramot Menasha, Israel; they have three children (Ori, Rony and Etie). According to an article about their 2009 lavish wedding in Chagigah Magazine, Etie and his bride (Michal Kollneshner) “both were born in NYC to Israeli parents”.  In July 2011, Jacob and Ori Kravel purchased a two-bedroom condo in Lincoln Square for $1.3 million.  The main NYC residence of Jacob Kravel is a luxury condo in The Saratoga; he also has residences in Great Neck, NY and elsewhere.   In 1981, he and his boyhood friend, Michael Brunn, founded CSI which currently employs about 130 low-paid workers; runs two shifts five days per week; and puts out about one million products per year for military and police forces. Kravel is also either the Chairman or CEO of ERO Holding LLC , a substantial owner of Pyrotechnic Specialties, which was charged with fraud by the DOJ in 2008.  He also has business ties to Racoe Holding LLC; Aero Parts, Inc; Aerojet Inc.; and Arco Holding LLC.  Not surprisingly, Kravel is viciously anti-union as this testimonial of his for a union-busing firm reveals: “Blankenship & Associates helps me keep my company union-free, and I will continue to turn to them for advice on any labor employment law matter, regardless of whether the union is involved or not”.  Teamsters Local 241 is currently engaged in a union organizing effort at CSI.

 

 

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