Socialist Worker

Tom Hurndall: tragedy of peace activist shot in Israel

Issue No. 1885

Tom Hurndall, the British peace activist who was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier in April last year, died last week.

Tom had been shepherding young Palestinian children out of the line of Israeli fire in the town of Rafah when he was shot. He was left in a vegetative state. He died of pneumonia in a London hospital last Tuesday.

An initial Israeli report cleared the army of any responsibility. But Tom's family kept up the pressure on the Israeli and British governments. Now an Israeli soldier has been charged with the shooting, nine months after the incident. He is an Arab member of an Israeli Bedouin unit.

The day after Tom died, over 100 people took part in a vigil outside Downing Street. One placard read, 'Tom Hurndall murdered-speak out Tony Blair.'

Sophie Hurndall, Tom's sister, was there and spoke to Socialist Worker: 'We feel it's time that the British government condemns the acts of Israeli soldiers who shoot, maim and kill Palestinians and international activists in the same way they condemn other acts of violence in Israel.

'We want to put pressure on an Israeli government that seems to have a policy to encourage violence and racism on a daily basis on an entire population. We haven't heard much from Tony Blair or Jack Straw during the last few months. I get the impression that only so much can be done in the current atmosphere because Britain, the US and Israel have a policy that protects Israel at all costs.

'Tom's family now wants to make sure that the soldier is served with an appropriate sentence, rather than the soft sentences handed out to Israeli soldiers at the moment. This sentencing has to filter down so that Israeli soldiers have to think twice before committing human rights abuses against Palestinians.'

Katie Barlow, who was also on the vigil, said, 'Tom was shot in cold blood. It's disgusting that Tony Blair hasn't helped in any way as peace activists are shot and hundreds of Palestinians murdered. I have been out in Jenin to make a film about peace activists. They are there to accompany people struggling. It is horrific what is happening to the Palestinians. The British government is pathetically silent on the issue.'

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Sat 24 Jan 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1885
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