|Born||27 November 1981|
|Died||13 January 2004 22) (aged|
|Cause of death||Gunshot wound|
|Occupation(s)||Photography student, peace activist|
Thomas Hurndall (27 November 1981 – 13 January 2004) was a British photography student, a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and an activist against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On 11 April 2003, he was shot in the head in the Gaza Strip by a (IDF) sniper, Taysir Hayb. Hurndall was left in a coma and died nine months later.
Hayb was convicted of manslaughter and obstruction of justice by an Israeli military court in April 2005 and sentenced to eight years in prison.On 10 April 2006, a British inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.
Tom's mother Jocelyn Hurndall has written a biography of him called Defy the Stars: The Life and Tragic Death of Tom Hurndall, published in April 2007 and reprinted in May 2008 with the alternative title My Son Tom: The Life and Tragic Death of Tom Hurndall.His sister, Sophie, works for Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Hurndall was educated at Winchester College, a boarding independent school in the cathedral city of Winchester in Hampshire.
Aged 21, Tom Hurndall took a working break from his degree course at Manchester Metropolitan University in photographic journalism to join the "human shields" in Iraq before the 2003 Iraq War. As the volunteers ran out of money and war became inevitable, he moved to Jordan and donated £500 to medical supplies for refugees from Iraq. It was here he encountered the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and decided to make his way overland to Gaza. He arrived in the town of Rafah on 6 April 2003 and began emailing images of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Palestinians back to his family. His Guardian obituary states that "the tone of his journals changed dramatically".and he justified his new location with "No one could say I wasn't seeing what needs to be seen now".
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.— Tom Hurndall
In April 2003, the IDF were on a mission in the Gaza border town of Rafah. Hurndall and a group of activists were in the area, having planned to set up a peace tent on one of the nearby roads to blockade IDF tank patrols. Hurndall was shot in the head on 11 April 2003. According to the IDF, an Israeli checkpoint came under fire from Palestinian militants, and the soldiers at the checkpoint returned fire. Hurndall's group of nine activists abandoned their protest to seek cover. Hurndall then ran out into the street and was shot in the head by an IDF soldier. He was taken to a Palestinian hospital in Rafah, and was declared clinically dead.The IDF transferred him to Israel, and he was taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where he was kept on a ventilator and underwent surgery. Six weeks after the surgery, he was flown back to the United Kingdom, where he was taken to the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London, where he remained in a persistent vegetative state, suffering from irreversible brain damage. He died on 13 January 2004, after nine months in a coma.
His father told a British inquest that, according to ISM and Palestinian witnesses, Hurndall had seen a group of children playing and had noticed that bullets were hitting the ground between them. Several children had run away but some were "paralysed with fear"and Hurndall went to help them. Hurndall's father told the inquest: "Tom went to take one girl out of the line of fire, which he did successfully, but when he went back, as he knelt down [to collect another], he was shot."
The IDF initially refused more than a routine internal inquiry, which concluded that Hurndall was shot accidentally in the crossfire, and suggested that his group's members were essentially functioning as human shields.[ citation needed ] However, witnesses at the demonstration in the Palestinian town of Rafah said he had been hit by a rifle bullet while trying to shield the children rather than having been merely hit in the crossfire, and Hurndall's parents demanded an investigation.
As pressure from the parents mounted, supported in part by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in October 2003 Israel's Judge Advocate General Menachem Finkelstein ordered the IDF to open a further military police investigation into Hurndall's death.
Idier Wahid Taysir Hayb (or al-Heib), claimed, he had shot at a man in military fatigues although photographic evidence clearly showed Hurndall was wearing a bright orange jacket denoting he was a foreigner. Hayb was an award-winning marksman and his rifle had a telescopic sight. He claimed to have aimed four inches from Hurndall's head, "but he moved". Hayb said a policy of shooting at unarmed civilians existed at the time.
The defence in the trial of Sergeant Hayb attempted to raise doubts as to what ultimately caused Hurndall's death. A military court was informed that Hurndall died of pneumonia. Chen Kugel, an Israeli forensic pathologist appearing for the defence, stated that the pneumonia had not been properly treated and "the large amounts of morphine" Hurndall was receiving contributed to his death.The court rejected these claims.
On 1 January 2004, Sergeant Hayb, a 20-year-old IDF soldier, appeared in court to have his custody extended. Apparently he had been arrested in late December 2003 and an IDF press release said that he had "admitted to firing in proximity to an unarmed civilian as a deterrent". Initially the soldier admitted to shooting what he described as a man wearing a uniform of a Palestinian faction and armed with a pistol. Upon further interrogation, he changed his story, and said he had fired a shot near an unarmed civilian as a deterrent, but ended up hitting him unintentionally.
After his changed testimony, the soldier was indicted on six charges, including a charge of aggravated assault. Following Hurndall's death, the military judge overseeing the case indicated the charge was likely to be changed to manslaughter or murder.[ citation needed ]
On 12 February 2004, the charge was upgraded to one of manslaughter. According to an army statement, he was also charged with "intent to cause injury, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of submitting false information, one count of incitement to submit false information and one count of conduct unbecoming."[ citation needed ]
On 10 May 2004, Sergeant Hayb's trial began at a military court in Ashkelon. There were six indictments: manslaughter; two counts of obstruction of justice; incitement to false testimony; false testimony; improper conduct. Hayb had entered a plea of "Not Guilty" to all charges at an earlier non-public hearing. After some argument over the admissibility of Hayb's confession, the trial was adjourned until 19 May 2004. The trial remained adjourned for much of the time leading up to early August 2004.[ citation needed ]
On 27 June 2005, Hayb was convicted of manslaughter, obstruction of justice, giving false testimony and inducing comrades in his unit to bear false witness; and, on 11 August 2005, he was sentenced to eleven and a half years for manslaughter by a military court, of which he was to serve eight years in prison.Hayb had, in August 2010 after an army committee headed by Advocate-General Avichai Mandelblit decided to do so, his sentence shortened for good behaviour, as a result of which he served a total of six and a half years in custody.
Tom Hurndall's family and their legal team were denied access to the military police report which led to the trial. After an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, in early August the state prosecution offered the legal team access to the report, but not to the Hurndall family themselves. According to a spokesman for the Tom Hurndall Foundation,this will allow them to decide whether Hayb could be indicted for the more serious charge of murder, and to find out if responsibility for Hurndall's death lies higher up the chain of command.
On 10 April 2006, an English inquest jury at St Pancras coroner's court in London found that Hurndall had been "unlawfully killed". Hurndall's father told reporters that there had been a "general policy" to shoot civilians in the area without fear of reprisals,as stated by the soldier who fired the shot, Taysir Hayb. Hayb had earlier told a military tribunal that the Israeli army "fires freely in Rafah." The lawyer representing the family, Michael Mansfield QC, stated:
Make no mistake about it, the Israeli defence force have today been found culpable by this jury of murder.
A week earlier, an inquest found that the British journalist James Miller had been killed by an Israeli soldier just three weeks after Mr. Hurndall was shot, a mile away from Hurndall's position. The coroner Dr. Andrew Reid stated that he would write to the Attorney General about how similar incidences[ spelling? ] could be prevented, including the possible prosecutions of Israeli commanders, and that the case raised issues of command within the IDF. He stated that "two British citizens engaged in lawful activities" had been killed by Israeli soldiers, and that "British citizens, journalists, photographers or others may be subject to the risk of fatal shots."
Tom's mother Jocelyn Hurndall wrote a commentary in The Guardian on 10 January 2004, in which she stated:
It seems that life is cheap in the occupied territories. Different value attached to life depends on whether the victim happens to be Israeli, international or Palestinian.
On 13 October 2008, Channel 4 broadcast a dramatised documentary The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall,which was written by Simon Block and directed by Rowan Joffe. Stephen Dillane plays Anthony Hurndall and Kerry Fox plays Jocelyn Hurndall. Anthony and Jocelyn Hurndall were interviewed at length in The Observer prior to the airing of the documentary:
They shot our son but they can't kill his spirit.— Anthony and Jocelyn Hurndall
The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall was nominated for the 2009 British Academy Television Award for Best Single Drama (Simon Block, Rowan Joffe, Barney Reisz, Charles Furneaux)and won Best Actor (Stephen Dillane) and Best Director Fiction/Entertainment (Rowan Joffe). At the Monte Carlo TV Festival Rowan Joffe won Golden Nymph 2009 as Best Director in a TV Film.
Tom Hurndall memorialised in second movement (Dance for Tom Hurndall (no lyrics)) of US composer Philip Munger's 2003 cantata The Skies are Weeping which is titled after by Thushara Wijeratna's poem. The cantata which comprises seven movements for a soprano soloist, chamber choir, and percussion ensemble,is written in memory of Rachel Corrie, an American member of the International Solidarity Movement killed in 2003 by a bulldozer operated by the Israel Defense Forces while she tried to prevent a house demolition in the southern Gaza Strip during the Second Intifada.
Note: The death toll quoted here is just the sum of the listings. There may be many omissions from the list. The human rights organisation B'Tselem has complied statistics of about 600 deaths during 2003 in the occupied territories alone.
Rachel Aliene Corrie was an American activist and diarist. A member of the pro-Palestinian group International Solidarity Movement (ISM), she was crushed to death by an armored bulldozer of the Israel Defense Forces in a southern Gaza Strip combat zone during the height of the Second Intifada under contested circumstances.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement focused on assisting the Palestinian cause in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. ISM is dedicated to the use of nonviolent protests and methods only. The organization calls on civilians from around the world to participate in acts of nonviolent protests against the Israeli military in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The 84th "Givati" Brigade is an Israel Defense Forces infantry brigade formed in 1947.
This page is a partial listing of incidents of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2004.
The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) is a coalition of a number of armed Palestinian groups opposed to what they regard as the conciliatory approach of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards Israel. The PRC is especially active in the Gaza Strip, through its military wing, the Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades. The PRC has planned and executed a number of varied operations, but specializes in planting roadside bombs and vehicle explosive charges - directed against military and civilian convoys.
The Murder of the Hatuel family was a shooting attack on May 2, 2004, in which Palestinian militants killed Tali Hatuel, a Jewish settler, who was eight months pregnant, and her four daughters, aged two to eleven. The attack took place near the Kissufim Crossing near their home in Gush Katif bloc of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip during the Second Intifada. After shooting at the vehicle in which Hatuel was driving with her daughters, witnesses said the militants approached the vehicle and shot the occupants repeatedly at close range.
In 2004 the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation Rainbow in the southern Gaza Strip from 12–24 May 2004, involving an invasion and siege of Rafah. The operation was started after the deaths of eleven Israeli soldiers in two Palestinian attacks, in which M113 armored vehicles were attacked.
James Henry Dominic Miller was a Welsh cameraman, producer, and director, and recipient of numerous awards, including five Emmy Awards. He was killed by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) gunfire while filming a documentary in the Gaza Strip. Miller worked regularly with Saira Shah for several years, and they formed a business partnership to operate an independent production company called Frostbite Productions in 2001.
In 2004 the Israeli Defense Forces launched Operation "Days of Penitence", otherwise known as Operation "Days of Repentance" in the northern Gaza Strip. The operation lasted between 29 September and 16 October 2004. About 130 Palestinians, and 1 Israeli were killed.
This page is a partial listing of incidents of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2005.
Idier Wahid Taysir Hayb Bedouin Israeli sergeant who shot International Solidarity Movement civilian activist Tom Hurndall, while on duty in Gaza on April 11, 2003. Hurndall died in January 2004, after a nine-month coma. Hayb was sentenced to eight years for manslaughter. His sentence was reduced in July 2010. He is the brother of Amira al Hayb, the first Bedouin Israeli female to join the IDF.
Amira al Hayb is the first female Bedouin-Arab soldier to serve in a combat role in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Aside from the IDF, al-Hayb also served in the Israel Border Police.
Iain John Hook was working for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as project manager in the rebuilding of Jenin Refugee Camp in West Bank, which was home to 13,000 Palestinian refugees. He was shot and killed by an Israel Defense Forces sniper, during a battle in Jenin on 22 November 2002. A United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel was vetoed by the United States. In 2005, an English inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.
The Skies are Weeping is a cantata by composer Philip Munger. The cantata memorializes Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall.
Avigdor Feldman, is a civil and human rights lawyer in Israel.
Khalil al-Mughrabi was an 11-year-old Palestinian boy who was killed on 7 July 2001, by shots fired from an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tank while resting with friends after a game of soccer in Rafah. Two of his companions, aged 10 and 12, were also seriously wounded. This incident took place during the Second Intifada.
The Khan Yunis massacre took place on 3 November 1956 in the Palestinian town of Khan Yunis and the nearby refugee camp of the same name in the Gaza Strip during the Suez Crisis.
The Rafah massacre occurred on November 12, 1956, during Israel's occupation of the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Protectorate following the Suez Crisis. The town of Rafah, lying on the Egypt–Gaza border, had been one of two invasion points during the initial incursion by the Israel Defense Forces into the Strip on November 1. As with the earlier Khan Yunis massacre, circumstances surrounding the events which led to the deaths of approximately 111 residents of Rafah and the nearby refugee camp are highly disputed, with Israel neither denying nor acknowledging any wrongdoing, while admitting that a number of refugees were killed during a screening operation. Refugees, it is also claimed, continued to resist the occupying army.
The 2018–2019 Gaza border protests, also known as the Great March of Return, were a series of demonstrations held each Friday in the Gaza Strip near the Gaza-Israel border from 30 March 2018 until 27 December 2019, during which a total of 223 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. The demonstrators demanded that the Palestinian refugees must be allowed to return to lands they were displaced from in what is now Israel and they protested against Israel's land, air and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip and the United States recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel.