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Silvia Cattori : Tom Hurndall assassination by Israeli soldier

category international | crime and justice | opinion/analysis author Wednesday January 21, 2004 01:44author by Silvia Cattoriauthor email silviacattori at yahoo dot it Report this post to the editors

Tom Hurndall passed away on January 13 2004. He was barely 22 years old. In fact, Tom had already ceased to live the life of an enterprising and passionate young man since April 11 2003 when an Israeli soldier aimed and shot him in the head

If we can take inspiration from his sacrifice,

Tom Hurndall won't have died in vain

Silvia Cattori

Translated from French by Dean Thom

Tom Hurndall passed away on January 13 2004. He was barely 22 years old. In fact, Tom had already ceased to live the life of an enterprising and passionate young man since April 11 2003 when an Israeli soldier aimed and shot him in the head, with the sole objective of killing him, otherwise he would have aimed for his lower body.

His assassination took place at Jebna, a poverty-stricken area of the Rafah refugees camp - the place where the most suffering in Palestine occurs - when all he wanted to do, along with his ISM colleagues, was protect the children from the abuse of the Israeli army.

Tom was a simple man. A photographer who wanted to bring the attention of the world upon this apocalyptic universe where Israeli madness had condemned so many. That is why we want to remember Tom. How he selflessly put his life aside to help the victims of the violence that the world chooses to ignore.

When I arrived in the ISM offices on April 12 2003, there were about 15 exhausted internationals all huddled up. No-one dared break the silence. An oppressive silence. Tom's bleeding body - which his colleagues had baptised "Thomas" since his arrival in Rafah, so as not to confuse him with the other Tom, also British - was the focus of attention.

The events of the previous evening had traumatised everyone. Tom was lying on a hospital bed now. He was still breathing, but deep down everyone knew that their colleague would not wake up again. That was hard to accept. The war, the violence, poignant situations where games were played with people's lives, had marked their young faces since their arrival in Rafah.

How can you contain this powerful anger that eats away at you? It takes time to sit back in order to digest this barbarism in its purist form that is so incomprehensible.

Everyone would remember these difficult times shared with Tom, where crazy soldiers came from Israel, shooting at Palestinian children and teenagers, for no other reason than to amuse themselves, to take out a Palestinian. Everyone knew that life had no place here in Jebna. But each of them had more or less decided in his heart of hearts that he would not leave. It would be impossible to leave these persecuted people alone. Everyone knew above all that it was essential for Israel who wanted to steal more land than it had already done, to "clean" Jebna, whatever the cost.

When he had to answer the questions of the media, to wash his hands of responsibilty, the military Commander would lie. He basically said Tom was armed, that he fired at the military and ended up being shot in the exchange of fire that followed.

Gentle Tom. It took six months of struggling from Tom's family to get a public enquiry into his death opened. This admirable family is still fighting today for the defence of the Palestinian people that they have discovered as a result of Tom's death, are being dehumanised. "We cannot stay silent and allow such people as Tom et Rachel, Brian Avery, Ian Hook and James Miller to become such tragic victims. If we do not stand up and make the Israeli government aware of its actions, there will be no end to these terrible losses in Palestine", Tom's sister affirmed with indignation.

Why, in 2003, was the decision taken by the Chief of the Israeli miltary to shoot internationals?

We have to put ourselves in the minds of the Israeli military to be able to answer this. They lead a war of destabilisation and mass destruction against the Palestinians. A war accompanied by massacres that are hidden from the rest of the world. The internationals who find themselves in these areas that Israel has targetted for its murderous operations, hinder the army, and are considered as potential enemies to Israel.

Tom the photographer - like the cameraman Miller - wanted to witness these strange operations which drive the soldiers - amongst other things - to kill a certain number of children each day, in order to force their panic-filled parents, having already destroyed their houses, to flee. Israel was the first to be surprised by the endurance of the habitants of Jebna who insisted on remaining on their own patch of land despite the months of continued bombardments and arbitrary executions.

Tom wasn't killed by coincidence. He denounced the barbarism of the batallions of soldiers sent to Rafah with assault tanks and F16s to lead an insane war against children who resisted with rocks, and who were regularly killed by shells. Tom was one of those people who understood that in the logic of military strategy, a Palestinian child is a time bomb. And that to kill one, to kill dozens each month, is just part of the system. And that was unacceptable for him.

Tom was killed because he got in the way of the Israeli military carrying out their crimes. These internationals who see Palestinians as human beings, are considered by Israel, as enemies of the war, as people to be fought.

Israel wanted to make them flee in terror. The opposite happened.

That's why, unable to kill them all, Israel the jailer who holds Palestine under lock and key, has multiplied its restrictions in order to filter them and prevent them from entering Palestine. These restrictions destined to isolate the Palestinians, are particularly worrying.

The world has never been aware of the seriousness of the criminal actions taken by Israel to torture the Palestinians and to provoke, through small massacres, their "voluntary" or forced departure. And the leaders of this world have never been so lazy, so deaf or so blind. Jenin, Balata, Naplouse, Rafah, and Tulkarem are tortured towns where to kill is easy, where the soldiers have no conscience and show themselves to be brutal.

They soulessly and involuntarily execute orders which have something to do with this "ethnic cleaning", this "transfer", that started in 1948, that Sharon is obsessed with achieving.

And we, who are lucky enough to live in security, do not have the right to keep this privilege for ourselves.

silviacattori@yahoo.it January 14 2004

www.ism-france.org www.ism-suisse.org

author by avi H.publication date Wed Jan 21, 2004 12:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

1. The soldier who shot this person has been arrested and charged with murder.
2. The Palestinian population is alive.

If Israel were really intent on 'waging a war of mass destruction', neither 1. nor 2. would be the case. This is elementary logic, so think again.

author by Leonpublication date Wed Jan 21, 2004 12:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Was the soldier arrested before or after the army found out this young man was foreigner?

What will the punishment be EUR 100 fine?

author by kokomeropublication date Wed Jan 21, 2004 12:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

they are "thinking" about changing the charges to manslaughter:


"Military commanders argue that Sgt Taysir should face at most a manslaughter charge, and serve only a year in jail if found guilty. Military prosecutors changed the charge from aggravated assault to manslaughter after Mr Hurndall died last week, succumbing to pneumonia after being in a coma since the shooting."


Not content with murdering their opponents at home the Israelis are now turning murder into an export business:

"Israeli advisers are helping train US special forces in aggressive counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, including the use of assassination squads against guerrilla leaders, US intelligence and military sources said yesterday.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has sent urban warfare specialists to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the home of US special forces, and according to two sources, Israeli military "consultants" have also visited Iraq.

"This is basically an assassination programme. That is what is being conceptualised here. This is a hunter-killer team," said a former senior US intelligence official, who added that he feared the new tactics and enhanced cooperation with Israel would only inflame a volatile situation in the Middle East.

"It is bonkers, insane. Here we are - we're already being compared to Sharon in the Arab world, and we've just confirmed it by bringing in the Israelis and setting up assassination teams."

"They are being trained by Israelis in Fort Bragg," a well-informed intelligence source in Washington said.

"Some Israelis went to Iraq as well, not to do training, but for providing consultations."

The consultants' visit to Iraq was confirmed by another US source who was in contact with American officials there.

The Pentagon did not return calls seeking comment, but a military planner, Brigadier General Michael Vane, mentioned the cooperation with Israel in a letter to Army magazine in July about the Iraq counter-insurgency campaign.

"We recently travelled to Israel to glean lessons learned from their counterterrorist operations in urban areas," wrote General Vane, deputy chief of staff at the army's training and doctrine command.

An Israeli official said the IDF regularly shared its experience in the West Bank and Gaza with the US armed forces, but said he could not comment about cooperation in Iraq.

"When we do activities, the US military attaches in Tel Aviv are interested. I assume it's the same as the British. That's the way allies work. The special forces come to our people and say, do debrief on an operation we have done," the official said.

"Does it affect Iraq? It's not in our interest or the American interest or in anyone's interest to go into that. It would just fit in with jihadist prejudices."

Colonel Ralph Peters, a former army intelligence officer and a critic of Pentagon policy in Iraq, said yesterday there was nothing wrong with learning lessons wherever possible.

"When we turn to anyone for insights, it doesn't mean we blindly accept it," Col Peters said. "But I think what you're seeing is a new realism. The American tendency is to try to win all the hearts and minds. In Iraq, there are just some hearts and minds you can't win. Within the bounds of human rights, if you do make an example of certain villages it gets the attention of the others, and attacks have gone down in the area."

The new counter-insurgency unit made up of elite troops being put together in the Pentagon is called Task Force 121, New Yorker magazine reported in yesterday's edition.

One of the planners behind the offensive is a highly controversial figure, whose role is likely to inflame Muslim opinion: Lieutenant General William "Jerry" Boykin.

In October, there were calls for his resignation after he told a church congregation in Oregon that the US was at war with Satan, who "wants to destroy us as a Christian army".

"He's been promoted a rank above his abilities," he said. "Some generals are pretty good on battlefield but are disastrous nearer the source of power."

Related Link: http://www.tomhurndall.co.uk
author by kokomeropublication date Wed Jan 21, 2004 12:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'Israeli sniper must face murder charge'
By Rebecca Mowling, Evening Standard
19 January 2004

The devastated family of peace activist Tom Hurndall are demanding the Israeli sniper accused of shooting him be charged with murder.

Jocelyn and Anthony Hurndall, from Tufnell Park, say they will fight any attempts by the Israeli authorities to charge the marksman with manslaughter following the death of the 22-year-old British student last week.

"There's no question, the soldier knew he was shooting to kill," said family spokesman Carl Arrindell today.

Mr Hurndall, a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement in the Gaza Strip, had been in a coma for nine months since he was shot by Sergeant Idier Wahid Taysir at the Rafa refugee camp as he shepherded Palestinian children across a road.

Taysir has admitted trying to cover up his actions by asking his commander's permission to shoot an "armed man" after he fired the fatal shot.

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