Socialist Worker

Israel murdered them to hide the truth

Israeli troops shoot three British citizens. The British government does virtually nothing. Two British suicide bombers kill three Israelis. The British government rushes into action to support Israel

Issue No. 1851

'TOM'S shooting wasn't an accident,' Michelle De Mello, a close friend of Tom Hurndall, told Socialist Worker.

'He was trying to help Palestinians go to the mosque in the Yivna area of the town of Rafah. Two Israeli watchtowers overlook the mosque. Israeli soldiers had started shooting so it was decided to leave the area. Two young girls froze. Tom went to help them and he was shot in the head. He was wearing a fluorescent orange shirt marking him out as an international citizen. It's a complete waste. Lives mean so much. It's even worse for the Palestinians. The Palestinians are being publicly humiliated. Every day Israelis shoot at Palestinians.

'The day before Tom was shot a 20 year old man was walking to the shops in Rafah. He was shot dead. His brother had been shot in the neck recently. The Palestinians are being pushed down when they're already down. I came here trying to be objective, but there's no way you can be. I have seen such horrific things. There is a cover-up going on. It's painful. We're going to do our best to get what happened to Tom heard. Tom has done so much and he's only 21. He doesn't deserve this.'

Laura, a peace activist who is also in Rafah, spoke to Socialist Worker.

'Rafah is the bottom of the bottom,' she says. 'The Israeli treatment of Rafah is so harsh and indiscriminate that it's not surprising that internationals are being killed. It's hard to say it but I think Israel is targeting activists. In a month and a half there have been four incidents against internationals in the Occupied Territories. Three of them have been in Rafah. We're an unwanted presence. Israel wants us out. They want to do whatever they want unchecked. That's why it's so important that we stay. What's happening to us pales in comparison to what is happening to the Palestinians. We're learning in a small way what it's like to be Palestinian. I'm Jewish and I have to say 'Not in my name' to what Israel is doing in Palestine.'

An Israeli sniper shot United Nations official Iain Hook in the back in the West Bank town of Jenin last November. The Israeli authorities claim the sniper thought Hook was a Palestinian fighter carrying a gun. Hook has ginger hair, is tall and was carrying a mobile phone. 'No one believes the Israeli story,' says one UN official. 'The soldier was a trained commando. He had a sight that magnified at least three times and he was only 20 metres away. What really concerns us is the lack of an apology and remorse. The message that goes out to every Israeli soldier is that it's OK to kill the UN.'

James Miller was shot by Israeli soldiers in Rafah earlier this month. The soldiers that shot James knew he was a journalist. Miller was a cameraman working with journalist Saira Shah on a documentary about Rafah's children. They had also worked together on Behind the Veil, the acclaimed TV documentary about Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Miller, Shah and their Palestinian translator Abd al-Rahman Abdullah were filming Israeli soldiers preparing to demolish another house. They left the house by walking towards two Israeli armoured personnel carriers parked outside. Miller wore a helmet marked 'TV' in yellow fluorescent tape.

Shah's vest had the same markings. Abdullah carried a large white flag lit by a torch carried by Miller. They shouted that they were foreign journalists in English and Arabic. A soldier began firing at them. 'After the second or third shot, James was hit,' says Abdullah. Miller lay on the ground for 25 minutes before being taken to hospital.

Anthony, Tom Hurndall's father, said last week, 'Following the bombing at the bar in Tel Aviv and the killing of three Israelis, the British government jumped to give a statement of support for Israelis, freeze funds and make arrests. 'In contrast, the almost passive reaction of the British government at the shooting of three of its nationals in Israel is very disturbing.'


Israeli targets

Iain Hook An Israeli soldier shot and killed Iain, the head of a United Nations project, in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank last November.

Tom Hurndall Israeli troops shot Tom in the town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip on 11 April. Tom is in a coma from which doctors say he will not wake.

James Miller Israeli soldiers shot cameraman James dead in Rafah on Friday 2 May.

Rachel Corrie An Israeli bulldozer killed US activist Rachel on 16 March. The killings are part of the Israeli onslaught against international observers, activists and journalists in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Israel is targeting foreigners to silence witnesses to the barbarism it inflicts daily on Palestinians. Israel has murdered 2,405 Palestinians since 28 September 2000.


'We want your voices to be heard'

'TO THE people of Gaza. Greetings to all of our friends in the Occupied Territories. We, the parents, sister and brother of Rachel Corrie, want to thank you for all you did for Rachel while she was working in Rafah and for all you have done to honour her memory since she died on 16 March.

We are grateful to those of you who became Rachel's friends and who welcomed her into your homes and shared your tea and food with her. She wrote to us about you and about your wonderful families. She admired how you supported one another even as you struggled against the cruelties of the occupation.

We will always remember the respect and love with which she was treated in life and in death by the people of Gaza. It lifts our spirits to hear of the Rachel Corrie Children and Youth Cultural Centre in Rafah and the Rachel Corrie Centre for Women's Empowerment. We know there are now newborn babies named Rachel and streets that bear her name, too.

Rachel had dreams of making connections between Rafah and her hometown in the United States - Olympia, Washington. She had started planning to make Rafah and Olympia sister cities. She had gone to her old elementary school in Olympia and had encouraged the children there to write letters to the children in Rafah.

Rachel wanted your voices to be heard in the United States. Now, we want you to know that many people in the United States are working very hard to make these dreams of Rachel's come true. The dreams are not forgotten. Rachel is not forgotten. And your suffering is not forgotten.

We want you to know that each day here in the United States we are doing all that we can to make Americans aware of your suffering.'
Cindy, Craig, Chris and Sarah Corrie family of Rachel Corrie, killed by an Israeli bulldozer in March


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Features
Sat 17 May 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1851
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