"I'll never know what hit me"
28th November 2003
Tom Hurndall aged 22, British peace activist shot in the head by the IDF and in a coma ever since.
Shaul Adar, London
Yesterday, Thursday 27 November, a young British man marked his 22nd birthday.
He did not get a celebration or a present and he did not even know it was his birthday.
His family visited him and talked to him, but no one celebrated.
Israeli shell kills girl
Children were covered with blood and rubble
April 10, 2006
The sad ceremony will be repeated on his 23rd birthday.   Tom Hurndall will never celebrate and will actually not do anything until the day he dies.
He is lying in a hospital in London in a coma he will never wake from, after a single bullet hit his head causing him irreversible brain damage.   [Tom died in a London hospital, January 13, 2004]
Hurndall, young, talented and cheerful, clings to life only by means of medical equipment.   In fact he already died on 11 April on a grey street in Rafah.
Few are shocked by their deaths
Hunrndall might have become a highly talented photographer or a brilliant writer, but he became another victim of the intifada, one among thousands of others whom no one, apart from family and friends, remembers, and few are shocked by their deaths.
His parents, Jocelyn a special needs teacher, and Anthony a lawyer, his big sister Sophie, and his younger brothers Billie and Freddie have gathered around his bed in a West London hospital with a handful of friends for a birthday which is likely to be the last of Tom’s life.
The British media have recently reported that the family have requested that the life support machines be turned off.
“For me Tom is already dead,” Sophie told the Guardian newspaper.
“But it is incredibly difficult to watch the suffering he is going through.
“It’s a natural step to help him bring his pain to an end.”
Hurndall was shot in Rafah while trying to rescue children under fire.
He believed as a foreigner, a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, wearing an orange fluorescent jacket that clearly distinguished him from the Palestinians, that the man who had him in his sights would hesitate and not shoot.
Israeli artillery shelling Gaza
April 2, 2006
But Hurndall was wrong; he did not understand that the lives of Israelis, Palestinians and anyone caught up in the war between them are incredibly cheap.
His family, however, refuse to accept the ease with which their son was shot in the head, or the fact that no one has been required to take responsibility for his injury, or the cheapness of life in Israel.
From North London they are leading a struggle for their son’s dignity and in fact for the quality of life in Israel.
Day by day, diaries from the inferno
“Tom was intelligent, very talented.   He looked into everything.   It was impossible just to tell him, ‘It’s like this’.
He always questioned, raised doubts and looked for convincing answers,” his mother says.
“He embodied the need and desire to identify with people.   When someone was mugged in the street, he came forward to help the victim and was ready to put himself in danger.   He did that twice.   He could not accept human suffering.”
At the end of February Hurndall travelled to Baghdad to see the situation there for himself.
Israeli artillery shelling Gaza
April 2, 2006
He did not go to act as a human shield or to defend the regime of Saddam Hussein, but rather to learn for himself about the conflict in the Middle East.
From Iraq he went to a refugee camp in Jordan where he volunteered for a few weeks.   Because returning to Iraq on the eve of the war had become impossible Tom entered Israel.
Initially he tried to maintain an objective position regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to form his own opinion on the supposition that the English media had an anti-Israeli bias.
After a few hours in Rafah, where he arrived in early April, he understood that the situation there was more terrible than he had dared to imagine.
“It was hard for him to remain balanced after everything he saw,” says his father Anthony.   “He saw terrible things and it was difficult to digest them.
He wrote that he was still examining his attitudes, but there comes a point when you have to draw a line.
That point was the pain being caused to the population.
He was there for five days and had already seen enough to reach some conclusions.
He wrote:
‘The things I’ve seen were really hard.   The situation is deteriorating in Palestine, people are dying all the time; life is cheap.   But why?   The line is crossed for me when I see the Israeli forces causing unnecessary pain, destroying houses and injuring children.’”  
Jocelyn, the mother: “The whole tone of his emails and diaries changed once he got to Rafah.   He loved Jerusalem and wrote in almost biblical style:
‘It’s my time to leave, but I have a feeling that things won’t work out.’
I have thought about that a great deal.   Why did he speak in that fashion?
Palestinian
Palestinian students peer into the doorway as they look at a large pool of blood on the floor at a United Nations school in Gaza.
The shooting took place Tuesday, June 1, 2004.
Did he foresee something?
I think he became aware of the terrible mess between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“He told how he slept at a doctor’s who lived on the first floor of a house that had still escaped demolition.
He asked the doctor if his children slept well with a tank so close.
The doctor replied:
‘The first two nights they cried.   But now they’re okay.   They got used to it.   I wish I could take them away from here for a week so they could hear children laughing in the rest of the world, but I cannot.   My children show courage before the Israelis.   They don’t shed tears.   I laugh but in my heart I am crying.’”
Hurndall sent darker emails to his friends.
He knew his family would be shocked to get them and realise the extent of the danger he was in.
This was especially the case when he wrote about Rushdi, a 15 year-old boy shot in the throat in the bathroom of his house, or the daily gunfights and suffering in Rafah.
“This isn’t something that just happened on one afternoon.   Samir’s family are an exception; they refuse to leave their home.   The IDF hopes people will abandon their homes, and there are many ways to cause fear.
In the last few weeks soldiers have attacked their house four times.
The soldiers combed the place without any authorization or finding anything.
They riddled the house with bullets, hit the water tank, and in one of the raids forced all the men onto the ground floor and made a seven year-old girl led them round the house at gunpoint.
They broke windows to make shooting positions and left the family’s prayer mats in the toilet.   Doctor Samir is still not convinced and the army is losing patience.
Outside, the scene is almost comic: everywhere there are ruins, as far as the border.   Only this house remains standing.   This is surely as embarrassment to the IDF.”
Beyond the chronicle of violence, Tom detailed in his diaries the meaning of life in an area where it could be ended at any moment.
He wrote from Rafah:
“I am writing now sitting exposed outside a house.
“On one side is a street, empty, on the other darkness.   I just know that curfew is imposed at 18:00 and it’s now 23:10.   Our job is to confirm that the pumps continue to pump water.   Palestinian engineers put themselves in danger of being shot when they come to do this themselves.   We’ve got a better chance.
Still, it’s a strange idea that every evening people are shot and killed for ignoring the curfew, while in the dark to the north west there are Israeli settlements.
A few hundred meters away there are army snipers, and each one of us can appear in a sniper’s telescopic sight.
It is possible to say with certainty that they are watching us, and my life is in the hands of an Israeli marksman or settler.
I know that I will probably never know what hit me, but that is part of my role — to be as exposed as possible.”
On 11th April, Hurndall came into an IDF telescopic sight from a watch tower in Rafah.
US/Israel helicopter missile attack
May 20, 2004
The last thought to cross his mind was the way to a safe place for a girl with shots being fired around her.
He removed one boy from an exposed area to a side street, approached to grab the other girl and was then shot in the head.
“I was at home when I received a phone call from the Daily Mirror,” relates Sophie his sister.
“I thought it was another interview because they had talked with him more than once.
After 20 minutes the reporter said he had to go and asked to end the conversation and get back to me later.
After five minutes he called me and said, ‘I’m not sure if you know, but your brother has been shot.’   I asked, ‘Where?   What do you mean?    Is he alive?   What’s his condition?’   But he said he didn’t have any more information.
I tried to find out as much detail as I could but he couldn’t help me.
I called Mum at school, and we understood that we had to get in touch with the Foreign Office.   I went out for a quarter of an hour to calm down.
When I came home I saw Billy sitting in the kitchen and his hands were shaking.
The Mirror reporter had told him what had happened.   He looked at me and said, “Sophie, Tom wasn’t wounded in the leg.   It’s the head.’
When I finally succeeded in catching the Foreign Office and said who I was, they knew all the details about me and about Tom, and I realised the situation was really serious.   The police came round and told us what had happened.”
The father Anthony arrived the following day from Russia and continued straight to Israel.
He travelled directly to the Siroka hospital in Beersheva, to no hope.
The family knew just how critical the injury was, as the doctors had tried to prepare them for the possibility that Tom would not make it till their arrival in Israel.
In the course of the coming weeks the family organised Tom’s transport to London and began the effort to understand the circumstances which had led to the shooting of their son.
In their house in North London they are all facing up to the loss in their own way: the two younger brothers were not present at the interview, but their mother says they are finding it difficult to function.
Sophie is the more resolute, more political, more confident.   Her anger is palpable and sometimes overtakes her.
Her responses always rooted in the general political context.
Jocelyn puts the emphasis on the humanitarian catastrophe, her own, the Israelis’ and the Palestinians’.
She has stopped working and nowadays keeps hold of Tom’s writings and photographs with the aim of publishing them.
“That’s the only thing which gives me strength,” she says.
Anthony is the analytical one, who covers his face with his hands for minutes at a time.   He was responsible for investigating the circumstances around the shooting.
Yatta village, near Hebron
May 20, 2004
“I came to Israel to investigate what happened without preconceptions, without knowing if he was shot by the IDF, by Palestinians or by accident,” he says in a professional tone.
“After a months-long investigation I learnt that a group of International Solidarity Movement members had decided to pitch a tent at the end of a street in front of an IDF position in a tower in Rafah.
They wanted to stop the tanks entering via that street.
They arrived in the afternoon to pitch the tent, but shots were fired at them and they decided not to erect the tent.
At that stage shots were fired towards an earth mound where a number of children were playing.
Most of the children ran away, but three small children were frozen to the spot in fear.”
To our sorrow, exchanges of fire are a matter of routine in Rafah.
“It must be stressed that we’re not talking about shots being exchanged between the IDF and Palestinians.
Absolutely not.
I collected testimonies from foreign journalists and volunteers, and all of them stated that there were no exchanges of fire.
The policy of the volunteers is not to be involved in any way in a situation where shots are being exchanged.
I asked time and again: there was no Palestinian fire.
Tom approached the three children in broad daylight and turned to grab another girl.
There had been about 15 shots in the space of two minutes, and then came the final shot which hit him.
He fell when he was wearing his orange jacket.
That was unmistakeable.
I checked whether he had been hidden by buildings so that only his head was exposed.
But from photographs and calculations it is clear that they could see the upper part of Tom’s body.
He was a very tall young man.   They saw him for several minutes.
I wanted to check if it had been an accident, warning shots designed to drive the children and volunteers away.
That was a possibility I had to check and could not rule out, but the IDF issued a report where they admitted that they shot at Tom.
They claim that an armed Palestinian appeared in the area and fired a revolver into the air and towards the tower.
This claim is not valid.”
Why?
Israel army attack on Rafah refugee camp
May 23, 2004
We are talking of murder
“First, they point to two different positions for the gunman, which do not correspond to the photographs taken immediately after Tom’s shooting.
Second, no Palestinian gunman would have approached this area in broad daylight and fired a gun.   It would have been suicide.
Third, there are a number of facts which do not conform to the soldiers’ testimonies: Tom was wearing an orange jacket, not military fatigues as the soldiers say; the location according to the soldiers’ testimonies is not accurate; Tom was not carrying a weapon — there are pictures of him lying on the ground without any weapon.
That version is a complete fabrication.
But the key point is that the commander of the position admits that a man was shot at and hit.   That man was Tom.
The IDF have admitted that they fired using telescopic sights, in the absence of any visible danger to themselves in broad daylight.   They fired at a civilian.”
That is to say we’re talking of murder.
“Without any doubt.   I wanted to believe it was a question of a mistake, and it took me a long time to come to the conclusion, but that is the only possible conclusion.
They saw Tom wearing orange a few times, collecting scared children.
The soldier knew the meaning of the orange jacket and deliberately shot Tom, in the knowledge that he was a volunteer.”
Photographed the watch towers
Anthony explains well how it happened, but he also has a firm opinion concerning why.
“Tom was a photographer.   He has pictures of the whole border wall.   He photographed the watch towers, and I imagine that the IDF did not want there to be evidence of what they were doing.
I am not saying that this is the only explanation, but it is a possibility.
It’s clear that the soldiers hate the volunteers, and it is possible that it was the decision of the army or a particular soldier, who knew he could shoot and not be punished.”
Sophie is more direct:
“Someone aimed his rifle at his head and shot him in cold blood, and now there is no intention of bringing anyone to justice.
For seven and a half weeks the representatives of the army refused to meet my parents.
It was only once they knew when they were going back to London that they agreed to meet, on the assumption that they wouldn’t be able to make it and they would have an excuse.
This is not an isolated event; the American photographer [and activist] Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer two weeks before.
Two weeks later, a cameraman by the name of James Miller was shot in his neck.
Something is happening there.
Perhaps they do not want witnesses.
There’s a policy and there’s the evidence of other journalists being shot.”
Israel army attack on Rafah refugee camp
May 23, 2004
Palestine voice not heard
After a painful attack of the representatives of the army authorities, even if only via the media, and of the Israeli position, the question is if the Hurndall family, or any other foreigner, cares about the Israeli children also caught up in a war.
Sophie:
“Absolutely.
Tom knew the Israeli position and had Jewish friends.
Emails have been sent to our site
www.tomhurndall.co.uk asking why Tom didn’t use his body to defend Israeli children.  
I was in Israel for three weeks and only spent a few hours in Palestine, yet I preferred the life in Israel a million times to that in Palestine.
The living conditions are not comparable.
Atrocities are committed on both sides, but in Palestine the number and frequency of atrocities goes unperceived.
Every day and hour something happens: homes demolished, curfew, checkpoints.
Suicide attacks in Israel are terrible, and I can’t express my disgust for them, but things in Palestine are 100 times worse under complete Israeli control.
The Palestinian voice is not heard in the world, and people do not understand how bad the situation there is.”
Continued below
Another question which comes up is by what moral right British people can criticise Israelis when the former are caught acting as military occupiers in Iraq, and when in the course of their wars — under the aegis of US President George Bush — in Afghanistan and Iraq many more civilians have been killed than in all the years of the intifada.
“This is a point which it is absolutely essential to deal with,” says Sophie who, like her mother, has made speeches at several rallies against the Iraq war.
“Many British people are against the actions of their government just as many Israelis are opposed to what is being done in their name.
Everyone has a voice, and personally I do not agree with British policy in Iraq or Afghanistan.
It would be easy to stay at home and complain about the government and claim we did not vote for it, but we have to do something.
Atrocities are committed in every state and it is the duty of citizens to resist them.
People have to take a stand and support the ideas they believe in.
Tom did not support the war in Iraq, he supported humanity in Palestine, Israel and Iraq.
Britain has a responsibility for the situation in Palestine: it was a partner in setting up Israel, supplies it with arms and sides with the US which allows atrocities to be carried out.
So, we as British people have a duty to raise our voices against what is happening there.”
You state that you want justice to be done for Tom.   What does that mean?
“We want the soldier who fired and the commander who gave the order to be brought to justice.
This is not a personal vendetta in that we do not hate the man who shot Tom.
We want to get across the message that it’s not permissible to shoot indiscriminately.
At the moment there are no restrictions; soldiers know they can shoot and no one will be investigated.
There is a policy to defend such soldiers.
We are awaiting the end of the military police investigation, but we have very little faith in the investigating authorities in light of the reports of B’tselem which attest to a policy of whitewashes and lies.
We are waiting, and depending on the results of the investigation we will look for other means to bring the soldier to justice.”
But if you know the chance is slim perhaps it is better, in order to mourn for Tom, to give up a thankless struggle?
Jocelyn:
“Every time I hear about bulldozers entering Rafah, it’s as though Tom were being attacked again.
I know people in Rafah, Tom had friends there, we are in touch with people there and it’s impossible to leave something like that behind.
You have to make sense of what happened there to my son.
Therefore you have to make sense of what’s happening under the government of Ariel Sharon in the area.”
Sophie:
“After Tom died as he was protecting children, we cannot give up and not support his principles.
We will feel a little bit better if we know that Tom’s death has changed something, that it had an effect, that something has been achieved.
That soldiers will be responsible for their actions and act in accordance with international law.
In the whole of the intifada there has only been one trial of a soldier who shot a woman and received 35 days detention.  
The IDF has become a gang rather than an organised army with clear rules.
I am sure it is very hard to refuse an order and say, ‘I am not shooting that man.’ And for that reason I applaud the pilots who refuse to serve.
I know the courage that takes.
We also want this event to lead to progress in the peace process.
We understand that people in Israel, even the ex-heads of the General Security Services, realise that it is impossible to keep going with the present policy.”
Do you hate Israelis today?
Jocelyn:
“Absolutely no way!
We met wonderful people in Israel, and my heart is with those who are suffering as a result of their government’s behaviour.
We are not a family to be reproached for hating a people, nation or any group for the acts of an individual.
The Israeli government cannot always act like a victim whenever they come under criticism, or claim its anti-semitism.
This is an unbearable claim and it is time for Israeli citizens to express their opinions against the government of Sharon.
Our sympathy is with those who want peace on both sides, and we want to see Israel freed from the cycle of violence which the extremists on both sides are encouraging.
We are frustrated by the treatment we have received, by the fact that a cheque which was promised to cover some of the costs of repatriating Tom bounced.
How do we explain that?
But it is completely impossible to accuse us of hating all Israelis.”
Are you not a little angry with Tom, who put himself in danger in that way?
Anthony:
“That’s Tom.
With all the pain, I know if he hadn’t gone, he wouldn’t have been Tom.
I wouldn’t have stopped him, even in hindsight.
We are sad at the terrible outcome, but not at the trip itself.”
How would you like Tom to be remembered?
Jocelyn:
“I want him to be remembered for what he did, his courage, his strength of heart, the passion of his convictions, and the fact that he was prepared to sacrifice himself for them.
I want to remember him in the words he wrote in his diary in November 2001:
What do I want from this life?
What makes you happy is not enough.
All the things that satisfy our instincts only satisfy the animal in us.
I want to be proud of myself.
I want more.
I want to look up to myself and when I die, I want to smile because of the things I have done, not cry for the things I haven’t done.
I think I want to know for sure the answer to that question.
Everyone wants to be different, to leave a mark, to be remembered.”
US missiles
IDF: Family’s allegation provocative
An IDF spokesman responded that the IDF regrets all civilian casualties.
Nevertheless, the family’s allegations that the IDF murdered Tom Hurndall in cold blood are provocative and baseless.
“Tom Hurndall, a British activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) was injured in 2003 in Rafah, Gaza Strip adjacent to the international border with Egypt.
“It is marked that in this area IDF forces carry out vigilant operational activities, including by means of patrols and defensive positions, for the sake of preventing the smuggling of weapons by terror organisations and the infiltration of terrorists into the area.
On the strength of this there is intense fighting between IDF forces and Palestinian terrorists on a daily basis. Therefore remaining in the area is to be in great jeopardy.
In this case, the activist stayed in a combat zone unlawfully, in breach of the general’s command forbidding foreign citizens to be in the area.
The bodies of Palestinian Ahmed Mughayer, 13, and his sister Asma, 16, right, are wrapped in blankets after being brought from the Talesultan area of the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 18, 2004. 

Both were on the roof of their three-story apartment building when they were hit by army fire, said their older brother, Ali. The shots were fired from an Israeli army position on the sixth floor of the neighboring building, he said.

Photo:  AP/Kevin Frayer

The bodies of Palestinian Ahmed Mughayer, 13, and his sister Asma, 16, right, are wrapped in blankets after being brought from the Talesultan area of the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 18, 2004.
Both were on the roof of their three-story apartment building when they were hit by army fire, said their older brother, Ali.
The shots were fired from an Israeli army position on the sixth floor of the neighboring building, he said.
Picture: AP/Kevin Frayer
Their presence there endangered not only themselves but also the Palestinian population and IDF soldiers.
Rawan Abu Zeid died today.
Rawan Abu Zeid died today; she was killed by an Israel military attack.

Israel soldiers shot the young girl.

Photo: AP/Lefteris Pitarakis    Funeral of Rawan Abu Zeid killed by an Israel military attack.

Israel soldiers shot the young girl.

Photo:  AP/Khalil Hamra
Funeral of Rawan Abu Zeid killed by an Israel military attack.

Israel soldiers shot the young girl.

Photo: AP Photo/Khalil Hamra
Palestinian medics and witnesses said Israeli soldiers shot the girl.
Khader Abu Zeid, uncle of the dead girl, said his niece had been cooped up indoors since the start of the raid and had gone out to buy something from a nearby shop.
Witnesses said soldiers had opened fire from a nearby position.
“About one month ago, the military advocate general ordered the opening of a military police investigation into the circumstances of Hurndall’s injury.
At its conclusion, the findings of the investigation will be passed on for a military advocacy review.
“She took half a shekel from her father and left the house,” her father Abu Zeid said.
“We heard heavy shooting and when we went out we found her on the ground, two bullets in her neck and head.”
Subsequently a decision will be made as to how to further deal with the matter.”
The UN must intervene at once to halt bloodshed between Palestinians and Israelis, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told fellow non-aligned states on Thursday.
    The United States of America has systematically and consistently blocked the United Nations from intervening.
April 8, 2006

Five Palestinians Slain, Including 7-Year- Old Boy, in Israeli Occupation Air Strike at a Car and PRC's Base
April 9, 2006

Israeli Occupation Soldiers and Settlers on Rampage in the West Bank.
Below: An Israeli occupation bulldozer blocking the entrance of a Palestinian village yesterday

Mother's Plea for Justice for Her Slaughtered Son
by Mark Townsend
Published on Sunday, April 9, 2006 by the Observer/UK by CommonDreams.org
British peace activist Thomas Hurndall sits on the floor of a home in Rafah, minutes before he left to participate in a protest at which he suffered a gunshot wound to the head, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, April 11, 2003.

Tom Hurndall, age 22, from Manchester, England, had been standing between Israeli troops and Palestinian children when Israeli soldiers opened fire.

Fellow activists from the International Solidarity Movement witnessed the scene.

Tom was declared brain dead after arrival at a Gaza hospital.

Tom died January 13, 2004

Photo: AP/Khalil Hamra
British peace activist Thomas Hurndall sits on the floor of a home in Rafah, minutes before he left to participate in a protest at which he suffered a gunshot wound to the head, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, April 11, 2003.
Tom Hurndall, age 22, from Manchester, England, had been standing between Israeli troops and Palestinian children when Israeli soldiers opened fire.
Fellow activists from the International Solidarity Movement witnessed the scene.
Tom was declared brain dead after arrival at a Gaza hospital.
Tom died January 13, 2004
Image inserted by Kewe.info
This week Tom Hurndall's mother will testify at the inquest into the death of her son, shot by an Israeli soldier in Gaza.
She wants the truth to be told — and asks why, when her son was helping children avoid gunfire, he was left fatally wounded.
For an hour or so, the mother-of-two will receive her final briefing into the topic that has dominated her life for the past three years: who was behind the order to shoot her son.
Tomorrow the quietly spoken former teacher will be the first witness at the high-profile inquest into the death of Tom Hurndall, 22, the British student shot in the head as he shepherded Palestinian children to safety.
Beneath the gaze of the world's media, Jocelyn will tell coroner Andrew Reid, at St Pancras Coroners' Court, how the Israeli authorities tampered with evidence, suppressed investigations and attempted to cover up the shooting.
For Jocelyn, it offers a chance to try to explain an unprovoked killing which has been condemned by the international community.
For the Israeli authorities, damaging headlines lie ahead, as its army's chain of command is dragged into the controversy surrounding the killing, among them senior officers wanted by British authorities for war crimes.
Reid may be forgiven for experiencing a sense of deja vu as Jocelyn delivers her testimony.


...Indoors now, but no further from danger.
To begin with, there is an Israeli tank less than 20 metres from my bed, that was parked there two weeks ago and has only left to be replaced each morning.
The room next to mine has several large caliber bullet-holes in each wall, many of them having travelled through the brick.

Tom Hurndall

Two days before he was shot
Only last week, the Central London Coroner contemplated strikingly similar allegations into the death of James Miller, a British cameraman who was shot dead a month after Tom, in the same Gaza Strip refugee camp, by a soldier from the same Israeli Defence Force battalion.
Miller's inquest heard how Israeli authorities tried to block British attempts to investigate the murder and heard allegations that Israeli authorities covered up the precise circumstances of how the award-winning 34-year-old was shot while waving a white flag.
What did not emerge during Miller's inquest was how the Israeli authorities offered £200,000 'blood money' to Miller's widow, Sophy, to settle her case for compensation in the weeks running up to the inquest.
Sophy received the offer in January and was encouraged by the British embassy in Israel to accept the deal.
The Miller family rejected the offer as an insult, having already invested more in a quest to bring those responsible to justice.
'A mother has her husband shot and has to raise children for the rest of her life, and is told that the amount offered is limited because the Israelis believed that, by offering any more, they would set a precedent,' said James's brother, John, yesterday.
The Hurndalls have also experienced Israeli intransigence on financial matters: the Israelis provided a cheque to cover the cost of repatriating Tom's comatose body to a London hospital after he was shot — but it bounced.
This week's inquest will be heard against a backdrop of hostility between British and Israeli authorities that have resulted from the two deaths. So brittle are relations that the IDF has refused to send a representative to the hearing.
Pyramid of authority
Jocelyn Hurndall will place the blame for her son's death not on a single sniper, but on the entire 'pyramid of authority'.
She wants to see a case brought against senior IDF officers whom British lawyers want to prosecute under war crime legislation relating to attacks on Palestinian civilians and property.
Among them is retired major-general Doron Almog, who may also have been part of the chain of command responsible for overseeing Rafah, the Gaza Strip town where Tom Hurndall was shot.
Last September, a warrant was issued for Almog's arrest as he touched down at Heathrow on a visit to Britain.
Israeli diplomats warned him not to leave the plane.
Amid mounting worldwide opprobrium over the two shootings, the diplomatic fallout is likely to worsen this week, when the Attorney-General receives the evidence gathered by the Israelis into the shooting of Miller.
Lord Goldsmith, who is said to have a sharp interest in the case, knows that history will be made if there are evidential reasons for him to request the extradition of Miller's killer from Israel.
Goldsmith will meet Miller's family this month to reveal his decision.
Archive of thoughts and poetry
Jocelyn spent yesterday afternoon flicking through Tom's journals.
Although he was barely into his twenties when he was killed, Tom had maintained a meticulous archive of thoughts and poetry for the previous decade.
His parents plan to publish their son's work soon; it comprises countless emails and letters in Tom's spidery longhand that reveal an observant young man who had travelled to Rafah to form an opinion unsullied by propaganda.
Speaking from her north London home yesterday, Jocelyn said:
'Tom had an innate necessity to write.
As times goes by, the more I am struck by his maturity.
His keenness to observe.
We are lucky that he managed to leave so many thoughts behind.
He was a remarkable person, with a wonderful nature and a quite incredible thirst to learn about the world.
He would have wanted justice if this had happened to anybody else.
We will never give up until that justice is secured.'
Opened fire on three children
Just before midday on 11 April, 2003, an Israeli sniper opened fire on three children as they played in a dusty, makeshift playground in Rafah, deep in the fag end of the Gaza Strip.
The youngsters froze.
A young English photographer dashed to the scene, carrying the traumatised body of a small boy to safety.
Hurndall returned into the line of fire.
As he bent to scoop a small girl away from the fizzing bullets, a bullet thudded into the side of his head.
Hurndall spent the next nine months in a London hospital.
He never regained consciousness.
There is a particular reference in his journals, among the thousands of words he wrote wherever he went, that seems peculiarly prescient.
His words reveal a young man keenly aware of the dangers ahead, indeed of his possible fate.
'Will be there [Rafah] for a few weeks until money runs out or I am shot?'
He wrote days before he was indeed shot.
Other missives portray a man who had prided himself on the objectivity of his opinions, the belief that only the truly impartial hold views worth sharing.
Emails show that Hurndall arrived in Rafah after hearing of the death of American peacekeeper Rachel Corrie.
Could it really be that bad?
He wanted to know what had really happened, Could it really be that bad?
Rachel was a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a gathering of young idealists who offer themselves as human shields.
Three weeks before Tom was shot, the 23-year-old had watched a bulldozer rumble towards Palestinian homes that the IDF wanted to flatten.
She stood her ground.
The bulldozer, it is alleged, crushed her, stopped, then reversed over her broken frame.
Photographs show ISM activists huddled around a crushed body.
In the background stands the massive shape of a bulldozer.
Connecting the two are deep bulldozer tracks.
The field report by the IDF, in keeping with the controversial accounts furnished by their inquiries into the death of James and Tom, state that Rachel was 'not run over by an engineering vehicle'.
Highlight the shooting of Palestinian children?
For the two British families, the investigations have served only to highlight the shooting of Palestinian children in places like Rafah.
By the time of Tom's shooting, 270 civilians had been killed in its crumbling streets since the start of the intifada.
There are very few investigations into the cases.
The first Israeli soldier to be convicted of manslaughter in a combat zone was the sergeant who was jailed for eight years last April after being found guilty of shooting Tom.
'A large percentage of them were women or children, ordinary people going about their business,' said Anthony Hurndall, Tom's father.
He now hopes that, if anything positive can emerge from his son's death, it is the highlighting of what he describes as the targeting of innocent civilians with 'impunity'.
Anthony believes that the sniper convicted of manslaughter for shooting Tom, Sergeant Wahid Taysir, was simply doing what his senior officers expected of him.
'Taysir was doing what his superiors told him to do, that is why he is so angry,' said Anthony.
The City of London property lawyer remains confident that senior Israeli officers will be brought to account after the evidence that is likely to be aired before the coroner this week.
It was Anthony Hurndall's perseverance that finally led to the tracking down of 13 witnesses who contradicted the IDF's official report into how his son was shot.
Destroyed the validity of IDF claims
His own report destroyed the validity of IDF claims that Tom was firing a gun at Israelis, or wearing combat fatigues.
Images taken moments after the shooting, when blood was still spurting from his brain, also revealed that Tom had been shot hundreds of yards from where the Israeli army had alleged.
Such findings will be corroborated this week by testimony from ballistics experts, Met officers and pathologists' reports.
Anthony said:
'We were told right away that it was very unlikely we would get the truth.
They said CCTV cameras were non-existent, then they said they were facing the other way, then they said that they could not see where Tom was shot.
It was all wrong.'
It is not only the manner of their death that John and Tom have in common: both hailed from families proud to see their children travel the world and answer life's questions for themselves.
Even now, their families talk of the vigour of youth; the importance of discovering their own truths.
For both families, this month's inquests will also precipitate a change of gear in their quest for justice.
For the Miller family, the quiet dignified approach that they have hereto assumed may soon be a thing of the past.
Even as the Foreign Office announced last Friday that the minister, Kim Howells, was looking to arrange a meeting with the family, the Millers told The Observer that they never wanted to see Howells again.
John said yesterday:
'He sat down with my mother, father and Sophy, and promised to do all he could.
But that was it.
Nothing.
He wouldn't even return our calls.
We have been praised for our dignified approach, but that may be over,'
When last Thursday's inquest jury returned its verdict that James was murdered, Miller felt elation, then a burning fury.
'In a strange way, the vindication hurts; you feel more determined than ever.'
Another British family who lost a son in the streets of Rafah may experience a similar sensation this week.
In his own words
5 April 2003 8:07am
Email on route to Rafah
Palestine is seriously messing with my head.
I need someone I can trust who knows something about the situation who can help me sift through all the shit.
This is my first time doing this and it's really getting hard to be objective, plus some of the stuff I've been seeing is pretty heavy and it's just making me lose it.
It's like being undercover and I am watching myself slipping into a role when aIl I want to be is as detached as possible.
There we go, that wasn't so bad as always.
Love you all, stay safe, Tom.
7 April 2003, 8:37am
Email one day after arrival
It's around 23 hours since I arrived [in Rafah].
In the last two hours I have been shot at, shelled, tear-gassed, hit by falling brick plaster, sound-bombed, almost run over by a moving house called a D10 bulldozer, chased by soldiers and else besides.
On the downside, I didn't get a good night's sleep because of the machine gunfire.
9 April 2003
Written two days before he was shot
My second night and things seem 'easier'.
Indoors now, but no further from danger.
To begin with, there is an Israeli tank less than 20 metres from my bed, that was parked there two weeks ago and has only left to be replaced each morning.
The room next to mine has several large caliber [sic] bullet-holes in each wall, many of them having travelled through the brick.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
Common Dreams © 1997-2006
Yassir Abu Shamas, 6 months, injured by US paid Israel shelling, April 4, 2006
Yassir Abu Shamas, 6 months, was injured during the Israeli shelling of northern Gaza Strip yesterday.

Photo: www.aljazeerah.info/Assafir, 4/4/06
Yassir Abu Shamas, 6 months, is injured during the Israel shelling of northern Gaza Strip April 4, 2006.
Nablus terror
Aiming gun at Palestinian civilians
April 6, 2006


Mohammed, Khatab and Raneem Abu-Maria missing their father, farmer Waheed Abu Maria in village of Beit Ommar, Bethlehem, taken by Israel soldiers 30th October 2012
Mother Umm Hamza Abu Maria, daughter Raneem Abu Maria, two sons Mohammed and Khatab taken out of house.
The children could go to bed with smiles on their faces.   Their nice dreams abruptly turned into a nightmare.
     Ashkenazi occupation of Palestine      
    Images and photos of children women and men under occupied Palestine aided by America the US     
       Bulldozer demolishes front of the house     
US vetoes Palestine rights 42 times
       Cries as carries young body of Malak Abu Etah during her funeral      
       US paid attack Gaza January 2009      
       US provides Israel with the weapons to cause death and injury and force the evacuations Jebaliiya Northern Gaza Strip      
     US ISRAEL MASS WAR CRIMES       Walk along street destroyed by US Israel airstrike      
     Inspect rubble of houses and apartments    Destroyed by US paid US Israel army      
 
He was just shooting at children to amuse himself
Punching an arab in the face
Atrocities files — graphic images
Now the landscape itself has changed
Man shot saving children in gun attack — News reports after shooting
24 minute video by Mrs Hurndall, Tom Hurndall's mother on the BBC programme 'HardTalk' — click here for BBC website and connection
Israel support of illegal settlements
Israeli army engaged in fight over its soul
TOM HURNDALL FAMILY WEBSITE
Ex-Shin Bet heads warn of catastrophe
Israeli women monitor soldiers at checkpoint
More on the Palestine Israel conflict


 



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