Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Tom Hurndall
Tom Hurndall. Photo: Kay Hernandes

Peace Shot In The Head

British peace activist arrives back in UK in deep coma.

29th May 2003

The British photographer and peace activist shot in the head by the Israeli army has been flown back to Britain in a deep coma. Tom Hurndall arrived at Heathrow on May 29 and was immediately taken to the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

A student from Manchester Met University, Tom was in the Gaza strip on a photography project when he was shot in the head with a single bullet in broad daylight around 5pm on April 11. Wearing a fluorescent orange jacket to make himself visible, he was move three Palestinian children aged between 5 and 8, paralysed by fear, out of the path of an Israeli tank at Rafah on the Gaza strip. He had managed to move one of the children but was shot when he returned to help the other two.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) issued a statement claiming: "A gunmen opened fire at the nearest IDF post. The IDF returned exact fire, a single shot towards the gunmen and recognised a hit. That is the only event known to the IDF at that time and place."

Several eyewitnesses confirm there were no Palestinian gunmen in the area and that there was only sniper shot heard. Brain scans revealed the bullet left hundreds of particles of shrapnel in Tom's head and he remains in a deep coma from which he is not expected to recover.

The Israeli government are refusing to conduct an open investigation into the incident and the Hurndall family are highly critical of Jack Straw's disinterest in pressing the Israeli's for an explanation and an inquiry.

Tom's father, Anthony Hurndall is a trained lawyer who has now given up his practice to carry out his own investigation.

"I don't believe it's possible for that sniper not to have seen the orange jacket. There have been peace activists in that area for some time and they have caused a lot of trouble to the Israeli's as they see it because they have obstructed a number of demolitions."

The IDF have refused Anthony Hurndall's request for a meeting and even shot at him and Tom's mother, Jocelyn, whilst they were visiting Rafah in a British Embassy vehicle. The British Foreign Office still made no formal complaint to the Israeli's despite the gross diplomatic violation committed by shooting at an official British Embassy convoy.

British cameraman, James Miller, and peace activist Rachel Corrie have already been murdered by Israeli soldiers in circumstances of obvious innocence. Killed three weeks after Tom Hurndall was shot, TV cameraman James Miller was wearing a helmet with TV written on it and was carrying a white flag when he was shot near Rafah in cold blood. American peace activist, Rachel Corrie, was wearing a orange fluorescent jacket and calling through a loud hailer when an Israeli bulldozer drove at her and killed her at Rafah.

The Israeli government have issued a statement saying all foreigners in Israel risk being shot. But despite the fact that the IDF's brazen shoot to kill policy is now being actively being targeted at troublesome peace activists and media workers, there has been no official condemnation from either the British or American governments.

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