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UK Peace Activist Another Casualty Of Israeli Army

UK Peace Activist Another Casualty Of Israeli Army

Tom Hurndall - UK Peace Activist Another Casualty Of Israeli Army Murderous Actions

GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 - http://www.gush-shalom.org/

[We decided not to wait with sending you the moving words of ISM activist Joe Smith who was with Tom Hurndall when it happened yesterday, and had been with Rachel Corrie a few weeks ago. His report is followed by an email from Huwaida Arraf with concrete suggestions what you can do, wherever you are. We should not allow the shooting of manifestly non-violent human shield activists also to become routine. Our not stopping to talk about them, not stopping to ask questions, demand an independent investigation, and a clarification about shooting regulations is part of the struggle against the occupation for which extraordinary youngsters take the ultimate risk.

This is the place to add what we forgot to mention earlier: Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Palestinian Center for Human Rights-Gaza are jointly petitioning the Supreme Court today, Sunday April 13, at 11:30 am about the use of the flachette weapon.]

"Not again":

Eyewitness Joe Smith writes about the killing of Tom Hurndall

The Electronic Intifada, 12 April 2003

Please not again. We heard the shooting -- we always hear shooting -- but repeated sniper fire like that is especially disturbing. I heard the shot, I heard a scream, and turned to see the fluorescent orange lump lying on the ground, blood coming from his head. I moved back and forth a bit not knowing what to do, and within seconds my medical training clicked in. The Palestinians lifted him to move him from the area. "Set him down!" Alice, the other medic, and I screamed.

Finally we got him down on the pavement, I had my safety pads out and was trying to stop the bleeding. One doesn't consider rubber gloves at times like these. Blood was poring out of the back of his head. I couldn't get it to stop. Seconds later he was lifted again and pulled into a taxi.

"Wait for the ambulance!" We tried to convince them, but they were hysterical, and he was torn away from us and rushed to the hospital in a brown Mercedes. The ambulance arrived on the scene minutes later, but it was too late, he was gone.

I looked down to find the bloody safety pad still in my hand. I had a brief instinct to throw it down, like one does any trash on these streets, but was unable to let go of it. I held onto it while in the taxi on the way to the hospital, and still clutched it as I slouched on the ground against the stone walls surrounding his operation room.

He was dead for me from the moment he was set on the ground for us to administer treatment. Alice tried to do mouth to mouth, and I thought it pointless. He was dead for me when he was pulled from our hands and put into the car. Even when he was wheeled out of Al-Najjar Hospital and taken to Europa Hospital in Khan Younis, he was still not alive in my mind.

Now he's on life support in Saroka Hospital in B'ersheva, brain dead but still breathing. No matter how constantly his heart still beats, I continue to speak of him in the past. It took me awhile to accept that Rachel was actually gone, and I think my mind is compensating for that loss by preparing itself for another in advance.

His name was Thomas Hurndall and he was from London. When he arrived, we already had an English guy named Tom so he chose the nickname "Tab", and that is how I knew him. Tab was incredibly passionate about protecting people when and where they needed it most. We were in Yibna, a Rafah refugee camp right on the Egyptian border, because he was aware of the constant Israeli gunfire to which this neighbourhood is victim every day.

He'd learned about the two brothers who'd been shot the previous morning,and was dedicated to maintaining a presence there. He said that he'd gotten extremely angry and determined after listening to gunfire while lying in his bed at the doctor's house Rachel died protecting. He wanted to be in the most dangerous areas, not out of some martyr complex to die but simply because he knew that that is where internationals are most needed.

He was prepared to stay in the house most targeted, and helped us hang large banners on it. He was all about placing a tent in an area in front of a mosque, used every night by an Israeli tank for terrorizing the neighborhood with gunfire. We were on our way to pitch the tent the day he was shot, but had abandoned the project due to the Palestinians' discomfort with the level of gunfire.

The tank was already in its parking spot when we arrived, and was shooting into the area. A nearby security tower had also joined in, and was firing the scary sniper shots. We were positioned behind a large roadblock deciding what to do, and Laura had gone forward with some Palestinians to take a look. She was wearing our trademarked florescent orange jacket with reflective stripes, and was clearly an international.

Despite, or possibly because of this they shot around her. She said that shots were being fired on both sides of her, making it rather difficult for her to move. She had just rejoined us, when the sniper fire from the tower turned onto the roadblock behind which we were standing. There were children playing on the roadblock, as they often do, and many scattered due to the gunfire.

There was one boy, however, that Tab noticed was too frightened to move.Instinctually, he quickly removed him from the area, as he observed shots land around the small and fragile innocent. After successfully evacuating him, he was about to leave when he noticed two small girls down in front of the roadblock, right in the line of fire.

He was going to help them escape when the Israeli soldier in the tower took his aim, and fired a large calibre sniper bullet directly into Tab's head. He was in full view of the tower, and like Laura was wearing the high visibility gear. Our embassies had been informed of our presence in the area, and they had informed the Israeli military.

They knew who he was, they knew what he was, and they knew what he was doing. They knew that he was no threat to their physical safety, but they likely understood the international attention his presence was attracting, and knew how our human shield work had prevented them from adequately terrorizing the Palestinian civilians and demolishing their homes.

In this way, he was a "threat" to them, a threat to the image of Israel it portrays to the world. He was a threat to the validity of the occupation, and a threat to their unquestioned notion of these people as nothing but inhuman terrorists. The sniper couldn't tolerate this kind of challenge, and took lethal measures to end it We'll only have to see how such an act will backfire.

I didn't know Tab all that well. He'd only been here a week, but planned to stay the full month of his visa. He'd just spent a week doing refugee work in Jordan, before which he'd spent two weeks in Iraq doing human shield and relief work. He was a brilliant photographer, and was passionate about documenting the immense human rights violations being perpetrated on the Arab people.

It was his first trip to the Middle East, but his previous three weeks had made him rather well-versed in this type of work. He was mature and laid back about it all, but incredibly passionate and determined. I was quite surprised to learn that he was only 21 years old, born the same year as I.

I had spent a few hours that day taking him around Rafah to take pictures.

We were trying to compile photo images of the city and our presence here for documentation and publicity purposes. The children here love a camera, and would crowd us endlessly. This bothers and overwhelms most people, but Tab thought it a little funny, and would chuckle at the rambunctious children shouting "What's you're name" and "How are you". He mentioned that he'd learned some tricks already, like not pulling out his camera until the absolute last minute.

We had even had a conversation that day about the dangers of this place, and how none of us really understood them or we wouldn't be here. I said that I still felt confident with my international status even after the recent violence against us. I believed that it was not a calculated targeting of internationals, just an increased amount of recklessness and hostility brought on by the increased effectiveness of our work. I said I wouldn't really be intimidated until they openly target an obvious international. Not until they very intentionally kill one of us would I feel the terror experienced by Palestinians. Fate works in mysterious ways.

I don't know if I can stay here now. I believe that internationals need to stay here, and that the Israeli military should not learn that they can intimidate ISM with such violence. I believe that it only shows how effective our work has become, and that now is the time to stay and establish an even stronger presence. But I only have so much energy left.

Rachel's death took a lot out of me, but also inspired me to stay longer and throw myself into the Olympia Sister City project and nonviolent direct action against the Israeli occupation of Rafah. I had planned to stay through the end of May to accomplish these goals, and knew that I had at least that left in me. But this incident has aged me quickly, and makes me question if I can now handle this place and this type of work.Who knows what's going to happen to him now. It seems likely that his family will have to make that dreaded decision about whether or not to take him off life support. I have to leave here if he dies, I can't do the whole shahid thing again. I also cannot participate in another military investigation.There were plenty of Palestinian and international witnesses willing to cooperate.

I'll continue media and legal work regarding Rachel's death, but I can't handle two. I just can't. Learning my limits has been a crucial part of my personal development here. I have learned to say "no", and I'msaying it now. This statement may be used for any media or legal processes, but that's it, khallas!

What a privilege it is for me to be able to say that. How lucky I am that I can just leave when I've had enough, and catalogue the event in my mental register of intense experiences. I can only leave on the condition that I return with a longer-term commitment, as my solidarity with these amazing people has only just begun.

[Joe Smith is an American activist from Kansas City, Missouri, based with the International Solidarity Movement in Rafah, occupied Gaza. He was a friend of Rachel Corrie's and was with her when she was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer on 16 March 2003.]

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1360.shtml

------- Forwarded message follows -------

From: "Huwaida Arraf"

Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2003 10:32 PM

Friends,

Our friend and colleague Tom Hurndall lies comatose - "clinically dead" in Saroka Hospital; BrianAvery has just undergone reconstructive surgery in his face, and will have to undergo a series of reconstructive surgeries over the next few months to repair his face from the bullet that shattered it; Rachel Corrie died almost instantly after being crushed by a gigantic bulldozer,but her memory lives on in all those working for peace and human rights.

Three serious injuries and deaths in less than four weeks to nonviolent peace activists. Three individuals, clearly visible and identifiable, posing no threat to the security of Israelis oldiers in their tanks, bulldozers and military guard towers The kind of violence that we have been working to prevent and end, is now being directed at us. This is the kind of violence that anyone living or residing even temporarily in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is daily witness to. We know that we are operating in a racist system, not only within the Israeli military but also in the international community. We know that Palestinians that are beaten, randomly arrested and shot down are not paid attention to. Israeli soldiers have no problem disregarding Palestinian human rights and the international community has shown zero willingnessto hold Israel accountable for the well-being of the Palestinian people and for violations of their basic rights. (...)

People from around the world have given of their hearts and minds to be with us, knowing the danger involved yet believing in the justness of the cause. The international volunteers of the International Solidarity Movement count on their governments and on you not to stay silent when unarmed civilians are shot down - we are counting on you now..

We have no plans to abandon our efforts and we renew our call for you to join us if you can. If you can't please consider one or more of the following actions to support our work:

1) In the United States the Corrie family is asking for an independent US investigation into the killing of their daughter Rachel. So far the United States Government has refused to conduct this investigation, stating that they are confident that Israel will conduct a thorough investigation. Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced House Concurrent Resolution 111, which calls for a US investigation. However, unless this resolution gets more co-sponsors and widespread support, it will not go anywhere. Though the resolution does not condemn or otherwise address Israel's policy of home demolitions nor the Israeli occupation and US support for, the ISM hopes that a prompt and fair investigation into the circumstances of Rachel's killing will open the doors for these larger oppressive policies that Rachel was killed fighting, can be addressed. Please help us get H.Con.Res.111 passed by contacting your congressional representative and asking them to support this. For more information

2) Please contact your State Departments or Foreign Ministries and ask that action be taken to stop Israel's targeting of innocent, unarmed civilians, whether Palestinian or international peace activists. Call on your foreign ministries to raise this issue with the Israeli Ambassador in your country. Rachel or Tom could have also been French, Belgian, Italian, Canadian, Swedish, South African, Japanese, or one of dozens of other nationalities that have stood with and protected Palestinians. The contact information for the US Department of State and the British Foreign Office who have an extra responsibility since their citizens have been seriously injured or killed from these policies and their failure to hold Israel accountable, are listed below.

If you are Israeli, contact members of Knesset and demand an end to the violence of occupation.

http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/telephones_eng.asp

United Kingdom

Human Rights Department

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

King Charles Street

London SW1A 2AH

By telephone: +44(0)207 008 3000 or use the following link:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=10070293905

45 You can also access contact information for your Member of Parliament at:

http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/alms.htm#s

United States

US Department of State Bureau of Near East Affairs Office of Public Affairs Tel: 202-647-5150 Tel: 202-736-4995 ask for Kim Richter secretary@state.gov askpublicaffairs@state.gov or use the following link:

http://contact-us.state.gov/ask_form_cat/ask_form_foreign.html

3) The Christian Peacemaker Teams, partners in the International Solidarity Movement, have called on their supporters to wear bright orange vest for this week. Please consider wearing bright orange, and reflective vests if you can, to your work, school, and places of worship and inform others of the deliberate targeting by the Israeli military of innocent civilians and unarmed peace activists.

We thank you for being with us, for your words of condolence, your encouragement and your support.

In solidarity & struggle, INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT info@palsolidarity.org www.palsolidarity.org 12 April, 2003

Statement on the Shooting of Tom Hurndall

ISM team in Rafah

photos available at www.palsolidarity.org for video footage, please contact the Reuters News Agency

On 11 April 2003, 10 members of the International Solidarity Movement in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine, were planning to set up a tent in an area that an Israeli tank often uses to shoot into the houses and streets of a refugee camp called Yibna. Several Palestinian community members had initiated the project, gathered the supplies, and accompanied us to the area at around 4:30PM. When we arrived to the area, the tank was already there and had been shooting into the street. A nearby Israeli security tower had also joined in and was firing repeated, single, sniper shots.

An American international was accompanied by two Palestinians to go closer and get a better look at the area, and was wearing our trademarked fluorescent orange jacket with reflective stripes. The tank and tower fired live rounds at the ground and buildings on both sides of her, making her movement difficult. She quickly returned to the rest of the group, that was positioned behind a large roadblock, but in view of the security tower. We made a consensus decision to call off the action, and return the next day as the Palestinians were uncomfortable with the gunfire.

At about 4:45PM, Shots began to hit the buildings and street around us, and we became concerned for some children who were playing on the roadblock near us. Many had scattered, but a few were left. Thomas Hurndall, a 21 year old activist from London, UK noticed that one small boy was still on the mound and under fire. He quickly lifted the boy and moved him behind the roadblock. Tom was about to leave, when he noticed two small girls still in front of the roadblock and in the line of fire.

He was moving to help them when an Israeli soldier in the tower, about 300 meters in front of him shot a high calibre sniper bullet directly into his head. He was wearing an orange fluorescent jacket with reflective stripes, and was in full body view of the tower. The British Embassy hadbeen informed of his presence, who had in turn informed the Israeli Military.

Palestinians lifted his body and moved him to the pavement about 5 meters behind the roadblock. Two trained medics administered first-responder medical treatment, and used safety pads to try and stop the bleeding.

Palestinians then lifted him into a nearby taxi and rushed him to Al N'garHospital. On the way, they took care to try and stop the bleeding.

At around 5:15PM, he was transferred in an ambulance to Europa Hospital in Khanunis. It takes about 30 minutes for an ambulance to get there as there is an Israeli road block on the main road. Without this obstruction it would only take 7 minutes.

After much negotiation with the British Embassy and the Israeli military, Tom was taken to anearby Israeli settlement from which he was taken by helicopter to Saroka Hospital in B'er Sheva, Israel. He is currently on full life support and in a head cast. Several of his friends have joined his bedside, and his parents are on the way.

END

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT

www.palsolidarity.org

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." Robert F. Kennedy

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