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Alert / ISM Rafah team statement


Alert / ISM Rafah team statement

Friends,

Our friend and colleague Tom Hurndall lies comatose – “clinically dead” in Saroka Hospital; Brian Avery 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 Israeli soldiers 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 willingness to hold Israel accountable for the well-being

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 passe 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=1007029390545 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 had been 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'gar Hospital. 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 a nearby 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.

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