OAKLAND - An Oakland man who was among the tree-sitters who fought to save a grove of oaks and redwoods next to UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium was critically wounded Friday in the West Bank by an Israeli-fired tear-gas canister, officials and acquaintances said.
Tristan Anderson, 38, was injured during a protest over the separation barrier that Israel erected between it and the West Bank. An Israeli soldier fired the canister during a clash with protesters and hit Anderson in the head, said Ulrika Jenson of Sweden, an activist with the International Solidarity Movement.
Jenson, who saw the incident, said in a statement released by the group that "the Israeli soldiers were standing on the hill looking over us, firing tear-gas canisters straight into the crowd."
"Tristan was hit and fell to the ground," Jenson said. "He had a large hole in the front of his head. I tried to stop the bleeding, but he was bleeding heavily from the head, nose and mouth."
Anderson underwent brain surgery at Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv and was in the intensive care unit, Woody Berch, who works in civil-rights law in Israel, said after visiting the hospital.
Orly Levi, a hospital spokeswoman, told the Associated Press that Anderson's condition was "life-threatening."
Paul Larudee, co-founder of the Berkeley chapter of the International Solidarity Movement, said, "He's really touch-and-go. He's hanging from a thread."
Anderson's girlfriend, Gabrielle Silverman, 25, was keeping a vigil at the hospital, group members said.
Anderson and Silverman were among those arrested during the 21-month-long tree-sitting protest at UC Berkeley over the university's plan to cut down a grove to build an athletic training center. The standoff ended in September and the university cut down the trees.
The couple went to Israel because they are "concerned about human-rights violations," Larudee said. "They are involved in defending human rights in many different places. They just felt compelled to do that in Palestine."
The protest took place in the West Bank town of Naalin, where Palestinians and international backers frequently gather to demonstrate against the barrier.
Israel says the barrier is necessary to keep Palestinian attackers from infiltrating into Israel and the area is a closed military zone off-limits to demonstrations.
But Palestinians view it as a land grab because it juts into the West Bank at multiple points.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.