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Ghassan Andoni on the Shooting of Tom Hurndall

Joe, Starhawk, Ghassan Andoni on the Shooting of Tom Hurndall

Not Again, Joe Smith More Blood in Rafah, Starhawk Wake Up Israelis, Ghassan Andoni

Update of Tom’s condition

At the moment there is nothing new to report. Tom’s condition is critical. His friends are with him at the hospital and his parents are on the way. The British Embassy will pick his parents up at the airport very early tomorrow morning and bring them to the hospital in Be’er Sheva. Our prayers are with him and his family.

Not Again, Joe Smith

Gaza Rafah 2 12 Apr 03

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 ho He was dead to 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 to me when he was pulled from our hands and put into the car. Even when he was wheeled out of N’jar Hospital and taken to Europa Hospital in Khanunis, he was still not alive in my mind. Now he’s on life support in Saroka Hospital in B’er Sheva, 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 name 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 h 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 it, 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 rem 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 being portrayed 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 promotional 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 cannot 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 non-violent 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’m saying it now. This statement may be used for any media or legal processes, but that’s it, hallas!

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 experience in my mental register of intense events. 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.

More Blood in Rafah Gaza Starhawk 11 Apr 03

In Rafah another activist from the International Solidarity Movement was shot. Tom Hundall was shot in the head by a sniper from an Israeli guard tower on the Egyptian border of the Gaza strip. The guard towers surround Gaza, which has become a kind of open-air prison overlaid on an idyllic land of sun and sea and orange groves. Here and there a few olive groves remain, or a flock of sheep and goats graze an empty lot. Farmers bring produce to market in donkey carts, and old women bake bread in clay ovens. An ancient order survives under an overlay of concrete, dust and rubble, menaced by bulldozers, sniper towers, tanks that shoot at night, acres of razor wire and no-man¹s land now being further extended to border a thirty-foot high concrete wall which marches across the landscape, cutting Rafah irrevocably off from Egypt. The wall is presumably for Œsecurity¹‹to prevent suicide bombers and weapons from entering Israel. But in reality, the wall is the next move in the Israeli policy of confiscation and control. In the West Bank, the route of the wall strolls out from the Green Line that marks the pre-1967 boundary, rambles all over the countryside and steals more than half of the remaining land from the Palestinians. Cities such as Nablus and Jenin will be encircled and enclosed in isolated Bantustans.. In the Qualquilya area, the first phase of wall construction took fifty per cent of the villagers¹ farmland and nineteen wells that provided a third of the area¹s water. Mas¹Ha stands to lose over ninety per cent of its farmland. A nation of gardeners and farmers will become a nation of prisoners‹the wall the visible, irrevocable finalization of a policy that already restricts movement with hundreds of checkpoints, splits families, makes daily life an almost impossible gauntlet of delays and humiliations. The wall will put an end to any hope of a two-state solution. Once it is complete, no viable Palestinian state can exist. Palestinians and their supporters have feared that the Israelis will forceably remove or Œtransfer¹ the Palestinians out of the West Bank. Instead, the policy now seems to be to surround, isolate and enclose the Palestinian population into a giant prison colony of a greater Israel.. In the Gaza strip, this policy is already well advanced. Sniper towers and guard stations are everywhere. Tanks patrol the border areas at night, and soldiers shoot, sometimes randomly and sometimes deliberately, down city streets, into houses, at crowds of children. To build the wall, in both Gaza and the West Bank, the Israelis bulldoze olive trees and homes that stand in the way. Three weeks ago, twenty-three year old Rachel Corrie was deliberately run over by a bulldozer while trying to prevent home demolitions. The Israelis have not seriously investigated her death, nor held the soldiers responsible accountable. As far as we know, they have not been disciplined or punished in any way. Instead, deliberate murder of internationals seems to have become policy. I am well aware that thousands, most likely hundreds of thousands of young men and some women the age of Brian and Rachel and Tom have died in the last week. That hundreds of Palestinians have died, unnoticed by the world¹s media. In numbers, the dead become faceless. It¹s heard to fathom the weight of this pain multiplied hundreds of thousands of times. Tom and Rachel have faces to me, because they were part of our group, doing the same work here of using nonviolent tactics to open some space for change. Tom and Rachel have faces. I spent Thursday visiting Brian Avery, who a week ago was shot in the face by the heavy mounted gun from an Israeli Armored Personnel Carrier. Brian and I had done checkpoint watch together in Nablus. He is a gardener, an organic farmer, a musician, presently facing a year of major operations to restore a shattered nose and jaw and cheeks and a split tongue. Brian¹s face is currently a grotesque and painful mask, but he has one. He is the lucky one, he will survive, brain intact, eyes and senses functional. He will even be able to speak. Tom was twenty three years old, from Manchester, England. He was shot trying to protect children, to snatch them out of the range of sniper fire coming from an Israeli guard tower, where soldiers stand hidden and safe, taking aim from at Palestinians for sport. The soldiers were shooting at a group of children gathering at a road block. Tom had grabbed a young boy out of the zone of fire and brought him to safety. He went back to try and rescue two young girls who were afraid to move. The Israeli soldiers shot him in the head. Tom had gone to Iraq, as a nonviolent peace witness to do humanitarian aid, but heand his friends had been forced to leave and had headed across Jordan to Palestine to join the International Solidarity Movement. Now he lies on a ventilator, unconscious and unlikely ever to recover. Tom was in the training I helped to give last week, and all of us are feeling the weight of responsibility. Did we teach them the right things, the right way to assess danger and make choices? Did we give them the information they need to survive? And yet I can¹t quite imagine what else we might or might not have said to Tom, or to the activists who were with him, who were also with Rachel when she died and have not given up or gone home or abandoned Rafah. Could I say to a young man courageous enough to brave gunfire to rescue children that he should have stood aside and let them be shot? That he should have saved his life over theirs? "Why?" the Palestinians ask me over and over again, when I admit to being an American. They never say, "I hate America," just, "Why? Why bomb Iraq? Why kill children?" I¹m left in the same blank state of incomprehension. Why kill children? Why spill more blood in Rafah? Why order soldiers to shoot unarmed peace activists in the head? Call your local Israeli embassy, and ask them these questions. If you are British, ask your embassy to pressure for an investigation into Tom¹s shooting. If you are an American citizen, ask your congressional representatives to pressure the Israeli¹s to investigate Rachel¹s death and Brian¹s shooting. Contact your Member of Congress and ask for support of H. Con. Res. 111 to express sympathy for the death of Rachel Corrie and demand an investigation into her death. Or contact Hon. Eleanor Holmes Norton and ask for her support. Starhawk is an activist, organizer, and author of Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising and eight other books on feminism, politics and earth-based spirituality. She works with the RANT trainer¹s collective, that offers training and support for mobilizations around global justice and peace issues.

Wake Up Israelis Gaza Ghassan Andoni 12 Apr 03

March 16, Rachel crushed by the blade of an Israeli army bulldozer Rafah. She was guilty of attempting to protect the home of a Palestinian family. It was proven beyond any doubt that she was seen and recognized as an International peace activist, yet the driver blindly followed the orders.

April 5, Brian was shot in the head by an Israeli army tank from 50 meters distance. He was seen and clearly identified as an International peace activist. He was guilty of attempting to protect Palestinian children. The solider blindly followed the orders and fired a round of high speed bullets directly to his head.

April 11, Tom was shot in the head from the Israeli soldiers tower in Yebna, Rafah from 100 meters distance. He was guilty of attempting to move two little girls from the army line of fire. The solider blindly followed the orders and Brian is clinically dead.

This is how clearly identified International activists are being dealt with from the side of your "Defense Forces ". Have you ever asked how Palestinian civilians are treated? Did you ever wonder why there is a high toll of Palestinians killed and seriously hurt on daily basis?

In which of the above mentioned cases did any of the International activists present a threat to the safety of your soldiers? Why would your soldiers, sheltered in a well protected tower, target Palestinian children standing at 100 meters distance?

Each and every one of you is still holding the pain deep inside you because the world was silent when you were persecuted, when you felt defenseless. Those ISM activists decided that it is a crime to stay silent when innocent civilians are being killed and persecuted. Why are you deadly silent? Does it really matter on which side of the bullet you stand? The sending or the receiving side!!!!

It is sad to say that the International community is as guilty. When Palestinian civilians were killed and persecuted they did not care. When Rachel was crushed, they stayed deadly silent, when Brian was shot, they kept silent. Now it is Tom and we wonder who is next. Now the people who care need protection. It is only you and the International community who can provide it. If you stay silent, I think you are as guilty as the ones who followed the orders.

Conflicts are fueled by the tendency of the powerful to exploit his power and the anger and frustration of the powerless which turns into violence. ISM activists are attempting to confront the exploitation of power and to bring back hope to the powerless. Nothing can be more conducive to the cause of peace than their work. For God ’s sake raise your voice and bring an end to this massacre of our hopes for a peaceful future.

Tom Wallace

© Scoop Media

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