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Hurndall Shooting verdict becomes major news story


The Tom Hurndall Shooting verdict is a major news story. The following articles were published on the net and will be published in newspapers tomorrow (June 27th 2005). It's unlikely to be a complete list.

1 ISM Press Release Commenting on the Verdict
2 Israeli Guilty of Shooting Briton - BBC Online News Story
3 The ISM's controversial activists - BBC Online Feature
4 Soldier Guilty of briton's killing - Daily Mail newspaper (UK)
5 Soldier Guilty in Death of UK Activist – The Jerusalem Post
6 Soldier Guilty of Shooting - Sky News online
7 IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter of British activist – Haaretz
8 Israeli military court convicts soldier in killing of Briton – USA Today
9 Soldier guilty of Briton's killing – The Press Association (UK)
10 Brit death soldier guilty – The Sun newspaper (UK)

1) The Tom Hurndall Shooting - The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) comments upon the verdict:

The ISM acknowledges that though the Israeli military court has found Wahid Taysir guilty of manslaughter it has failed to question the policy and decision makers responsible for Tom's murder and the murder of thousands of other innocent people.

Tom would want us to remember him. But we also know he'd want us to remember that thousands of innocent Palestinians have died under similar circumstances. These people's deaths have not been investigated, and have often been lied about, claiming the victims to be combatants or explained away with empty phrases like "caught in the crossfire" or "tragic accident."

We pay tribute to the courage and determination of the Hurndall family, who despite their grief, fought for justice, and overcame every obstacle the Israeli Government and Army put in front of them.

The ISM renews its demand for an independent investigation of the murder of American ISM volunteer Rachel Corrie in Rafah who was crushed to death by an Israel military bulldozer on March 16, 2003, a few weeks before Tom was shot.

Tom Hurndall is never far from our thoughts, and he continues to inspire our Palestinian, Israeli, and International volunteers as we begin our Freedom Summer 2005 campaign in the Occupied Territories.

2) Israeli Guilty of Shooting Briton

A former Israeli soldier has been found guilty of the manslaughter of British student Tom Hurndall in the Gaza Strip.

Ex-sergeant Wahid Taysir was convicted at a military court in Ashkelon for the shooting of Mr Hurndall in April 2003.

Mr Hurndall, 22, was involved in protests against the Israeli military in the Palestinian town of Rafah. He died nine months after the shooting.

His father, Anthony, welcomed the guilty verdict, but he said the Israeli army acted with impunity too often.

The defendant was led out of the court in handcuffs and tried to attack a number of photographers and cameramen filming him.

Improper conduct

More than 50 people crowded into the small courtroom on a military base in southern Israel, to hear the verdict - which took more than an hour to read out.

In addition to the manslaughter verdict, Taysir was found guilty of obstruction of justice, incitement to false testimony, false testimony and improper conduct.

The court was told Taysir fired at Mr Hurndall from an Israeli army watchtower, using a sniper rifle with a telescopic sight.

Witnesses said Mr Hurndall, from north London, had been escorting children away from gunfire when he was hit in the head by a single shot.

The Israeli army initially disputed this account, but under pressure from Mr Hurndall's family and the British government it ordered a full investigation.

It later indicted Taysir, a member of Israel's Bedouin Arab minority, who is no longer in the army.

Family 'concerned'

Mr Hurndall, a Manchester Metropolitan University journalism and photography student, had been operating as a human shield in the Gaza Strip with the International Solidarity Movement.

His sister Sophie said she felt a "huge amount of anger" towards Taysir. "Tom was rescuing a child," she said, adding that what Taysir did "was the most despicable action you could carry out."

But she added: "He's been hung out to dry by the Israeli army who have not taken responsibility for the poor investigation and absolute lack of accountability."

Mr Hurndall's father, who had been sitting in court within touching distance of Taysir, said the guilty verdict was the right one.

But he also expressed concern about the "culture in which this incident took place". "We're concerned that there is a policy which seems to be prevalent in Gaza, amongst the Israeli soldiers and army, that they feel able to shoot civilians really without any accountability whatsoever."

Civil liberties group Human Rights Watch last week accused Israel of investigating less than 5% of hundreds of cases of Palestinians killed since 2000.

Israeli authorities say there is no policy of tolerating the shooting of civilians. Taysir is due to be sentenced next week.

A film about the case, Shot on Camera: Tom Hurndall, will be shown on BBC Three on Monday 27 June at 2000 BST.

For the original story and a picture see:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4625355.stm

3) The ISM's controversial activists The trial and conviction of an Israeli soldier for the manslaughter of Tom Hurndall have highlighted the controversial work of the "human shields" of the International Solidarity Movement.

To the Western peace activists themselves, they are helping defuse the situation by using non-violent means to act as a buffer between Israelis and Palestinians.

They claim Israel allows its soldiers to shoot civilians and children, and believe they can protect these victims because the Israeli Defence Force will think twice before shooting at a group that includes Westerners.

The ISM has already lost two members - the American Rachel Corrie, killed by an Israeli bulldozer, and Tom Hurndall, shot in the head.

To the Israeli authorities, the activists of the ISM are misguided outsiders who are allowing themselves to be manipulated by Palestinian militants.

They say ISM members have met suicide bombers and helped gunmen, something the group vehemently denies. Some activists who left Israel have been prevented from returning.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in London says: "Israel has no objection to foreign nationals participating in legitimate protests as long as they take place within the law and do not endanger human lives. "Nevertheless, over the past few months, the International Solidarity Movement has actively inflamed an already tense and volatile situation.

Contrast

"The ISM is a Palestinian movement using Western activists to present itself as an international peace movement.

"The ISM's radical anti-Israeli politics, combined with their illegal and provocative methods, stand in stark contrast to the behaviour of the other NGOs operating in the area."

The various arms of the ISM have been in existence since soon after the beginning of the latest Intifada in September 2000.

Raphael Cohen, a British organiser within the ISM, says they are acting to prevent wanton killing.

"No-one goes there in the belief that they are going to be shot," he says.

"Our presence in itself means the army are curtailed in the level of violence they can use." "They can't just start firing at a crowd when they know there are foreigners in there. Palestinian lives are held very cheaply."

"The rules of engagement for soldiers in the Gaza Strip have not been made available publicly."

He says the shooting of Tom Hurndall is a perfect illustration of the Israeli army's disregard for life. "We were taking part in an action to set up a tent on the edge of the civilian settlement in Rafah, on an area where there has been a lot of destruction to property, to create a buffer zone between their military positions on the border and the populated area.

"They regularly drove tanks and would fire indiscriminately on the civilian population. Several people had been injured in the same week."

And Mr. Cohen, who says he has been barred from entering Israel for "security reasons", vows that the ISM's work will continue.

For the original story and a picture, see:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4625855.stm

4) Soldier guilty of Briton's Killing

An Israeli military court has convicted a former Israeli soldier of manslaughter after the killing of a pro-Palestinian British activist.

The defendant, Wahid Taysir, was accused of shooting Tom Hurndall in the head during an army operation in the Gaza Strip in April 2003.

Witnesses said Hurndall, 22, was helping Palestinian children avoid Israeli tanks.

Hurndall lay in a comatose state for nine months before he died in a London hospital.

Defence lawyer Yariv Ronen had claimed that Hurndall did not die as a direct consequence of his client's actions, but because of malpractice by Hurndall's British doctors. The family dismissed these claims. In its ruling, the military court found Taysir had shot Hurndall with a sniper rifle using a telescopic sight. It said there was no basis for the claim of malpractice, and said Taysir had given a "confused and even pathetic" version of events to the court.

Taysir was also convicted of obstruction of justice, one count of submitting false testimony, obtaining false testimony and unbecoming behaviour. He is to be sentenced next week…

For the complete article see:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=353613&in_page_id=1770&in_a_source=&ito=1490

5) Soldier Guilty in Death of UK Activist

A military court on Monday convicted a former IDF soldier of manslaughter in the killing of a pro-Palestinian British activist.

The defendant, Wahid Taysir, was accused of shooting Tom Hurndall in the head during an army operation in the Gaza Strip in April 2003. Witnesses said Hurndall, 22, was shot in the head while attempting to lead a group of children out of the line of fire during a fight between soldiers and Palestinian gunmen in Rafah.

Hurndall lay in a comatose state for nine months before he died in a London hospital.

Defense lawyer Yariv Ronen had charged that Hurndall did not die as a direct consequence of his client's actions, but because of malpractice by Hurndall's British doctors. The family dismissed these charges.

In its ruling Monday, the military court found Taysir had shot Hurndall with a sniper rifle using a telescopic sight. It said there was no basis for the claim of malpractice, and said Taysir had given a "confused and even pathetic" version of events to the court.

Taysir also was convicted of obstruction of justice, one count of submitting false testimony, obtaining false testimony and unbecoming behavior. He is to be sentenced next week.

Hurndall's sister, Sophie Hurndall, praised the verdict, but said the army must change its practices. "This kind of thing needs to stop happening. Until that has changed ... we won't really have won," she told Sky News TV.

She said there had been little contact with Israeli authorities during the trial, and claimed there had been a "systematic process" of covering up the shooting.

Hurndall, a student, was shot in the Rafah refugee camp, where he was photographing the work of the International Solidarity Movement. ISM activists often place themselves between Israeli forces and Palestinians to try to stop the Israeli military from carrying out operations.

The defense also argued that a confession from the soldier, on which the prosecution based its case, was forced.

Taysir, a member of Israel's Bedouin Arab minority, charged the army with racism, saying he was prosecuted because he is an Arab and because his victim was a foreigner.

Two other British citizens have been killed in the Israeli-Palestinian fighting. Cameraman James Miller was shot and killed in Rafah on May 2003 while filming a documentary about the impact of violence on children.

Another soldier, Aymad Atawna, has been sentenced to jail for lying to protect Taysir.

For the original story and a picture, see:

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1119838847665

6) Soldier Guilty of Shooting

An Israeli soldier has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a British peace activist.

Student Tom Hurndall, 22, of north London, was shot in the head while helping Palestinian children to safety at a checkpoint in the Gaza Strip in April 2003.

Ex-Sgt Taysir Hayb had denied the charges and attacked cameramen and photographers as he was led from the military court in sitting in Kastina, southern Israel.

The Israeli army initially disputed claims that the soldier had targeted Mr Hurndall at the Rafah refugee camp from a watchtower. However, they eventually ordered a full inquiry after pressure from Mr Hurndall's family.

Hayb was also found guilty of obstructing of justice, giving false testimony and soliciting false testimony.

Mr Hurndall's sister Sophie said: "There's obviously a lot that still needs to be done. For us the main issue is not that one soldier has been found guilty of manslaughter but that this should not have been able to happen."

For the complete article and a picture, see:

http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30100-13377824,00.html

7) IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter of British activist

IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter of British activist By Amos Harel and Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondents and The Associated Press A military court on Monday found former Israel Defense Forces soldier Taysir al-Heib guilty of the manslaughter of British activist Thomas Hurndall, who he shot in the head in the Gaza Strip two years ago.

The IDF court also found al-Heib guilty of obstruction of justice and giving false testimony.

The incident took place in the Rafah refugee camp, where Hurndall, a student, was photographing the work of International Solidarity Movement activists. ISM members often place themselves between IDF troops and Palestinians in an effort to prevent military operations.

Hurndall's father and brother arrived in Israel early Monday to attend the verdict hearing. His brother's entry into the country was denied due to "security reasons," but his father was present at the court when the verdict was read out.

In the verdict, Colonel Nir Avraham stated the court had found testimony provided by the prosecution's witnesses more reliable than that provided by al-Heib. Avraham also said another soldier who had been at the outpost with al-Heib at the time of the shooting said the defendant had persuaded him to lie in his testimony.

'Confused and even pathetic' testimony The court found that the defendant had shot Hurndall with a sniper's rifle, using a telescopic sight, and that al-Heib had given a "confused and even pathetic" version of events to the court.

The court referred to a confession by the defendant, in which he said he wanted to teach Hurndall a lesson for entering a forbidden zone. Al-Heib admitted to aiming 10 centimeters to the left of Hurndall's head to frighten him, but had inadvertently shot the activist.

"From that moment, Sergeant al-Heib began a broad campaign of lies and falsehoods to throw off the expected investigation and to exonnerate himself of any guilt," according to the verdict.

Al-Heib, a former member of the Bedouin Reconnaissance Battalion, was accused of shooting Hurndall in the head during an army operation in the Gaza Strip in April 2003. Witnesses said Hurndall, 22, had been helping Palestinian children avoid IDF tanks.

Hurndall lay in a comatose state for nine months before he died in a London hospital last year.

Defense lawyer Yariv Ronen had charged that Hurndall did not die as a direct consequence of his client's actions, but because of malpractice by Hurndall's British doctors. The family dismissed these charges.

The defendant also was convicted of obstruction of justice, one count of submitting false testimony, obtaining false testimony and unbecoming behavior. Al-Heib, who is to be sentenced in mid-August, faces up to 20 years in prison.

Hurndall's sister, Sophie Hurndall, praised the verdict, but said the army must change its practices.

"This kind of thing needs to stop happening. Until that has changed... we won't really have won," she told Sky News TV.

She said there had been little contact with Israeli authorities during the trial, and claimed there had been a "systematic process" of covering up the shooting.

Brother petitions against denial of entry

William Hurndall, Thomas' brother, arrived in Israel early Monday and was held at the airport by immigration authorities. He filed an urgent petition with the Tel Aviv Administrative Tribunal through attorney Avigdor Feldman, in order to be allowed into the country.

When Hurndall's father and brother arrived, Interior Ministry representative advised William he was allowed into Israel only under certain conditions: That his stay was limited to 24 hours, he travelled accompanied by an official representative of the British embassy and pledged not to enter the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

"As the brother of a victim of an offense seeking to use his acknowledged rights and attend an important ruling in the matter of his dear one," wrote Feldman in the administrative petition submitted before noon on Monday, "the petitioner expected to be treated respectfully and not to face an arbitrary salmming of doors and the stipulation of harsh terms."

For the original article and a picture, see:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/592856.html

8) Israeli military court convicts soldier in killing of Briton

CASTINA MILITARY BASE, Israel (AP) — An Israeli military court Monday convicted a former soldier of manslaughter in the shooting of a pro-Palestinian British activist, the first time a soldier was found guilty of killing a foreigner during four years of conflict with the Palestinians.

Wahid Taysir, a member of Israel's Bedouin Arab minority, was accused of shooting Tom Hurndall in the head during an April 2003 army operation in the Gaza Strip. Witnesses said Hurndall, 22, was helping Palestinian children avoid Israeli tanks.

Hurndall was comatose for nine months before dying in a London hospital. Taysir's lawyers claimed Hurndall did not die directly from his wounds but rather because of malpractice by British doctors. Taysir also accused the court of racism.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel said there was no basis for the malpractice claim. The court found that Taysir shot Hurndall with a sniper rifle using a telescopic sight, adding that the soldier gave a "confused and even pathetic" version of events.

The court referred to a confession by Taysir, in which he said he wanted to teach Hurndall a lesson for entering a forbidden area. Taysir said he aimed a bullet 4 inches to the left of Hurndall's head to frighten him, but he inadvertently shot the activist.

"From that moment, Sgt. Taysir began a broad campaign of lies and falsehoods to throw off the expected investigation and to remove any criminal guilt from himself," wrote Col. Nir Aviram, the panel's head judge.

Taysir also was convicted of obstruction of justice, submitting false testimony, obtaining false testimony and unbecoming behavior. Taysir faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in August.

Another soldier, Aymad Atawna, already has been sentenced for lying to protect Taysir.

Hurndall's sister, Sophie Hurndall, praised Monday's verdict but said the army must change its practices.

"This kind of thing needs to stop happening. Until that has changed ... we won't really have won," she told Sky News TV. Their father, Anthony Hurndall, said the verdict "amounts to a limited justice."

"Despite our requests, we have not seen all the evidence, and we believe this may go much further up the chain," said the father, who was accompanied by British diplomats at the verdict.

Kim Howells, a minister in the British Foreign Office, welcomed the conviction.

"I have every sympathy for the family and I hope that they will draw some comfort from this conviction," he said.

The defense argued that Taysir's confession was forced. Taysir also said he was prosecuted because he is an Arab and the victim was a foreigner.

"We already believe that there are serious grounds for appeal," defense lawyer Ilan Bombach said.

Taysir, wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, sat silently throughout the hourlong reading of the judgment.

Bedouin lawmaker Taleb Al Sana accused the army of intentionally choosing an easy target to divert attention from its own wrongdoing. "It is easier to throw garbage on someone who is different and thereby cleanse the establishment," Al Sana said.

Tom Hurndall, a student, was shot in the Rafah refugee camp, a frequent flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, where he was photographing the work of the International Solidarity Movement. ISM activists often place themselves between Israeli forces and Palestinians to try to stop the Israeli military from carrying out operations.

In March 2003, Rachel Corrie, 23, an ISM activist from Olympia, Wash., was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in a Gaza refugee camp while trying to stop soldiers from demolishing a house. Her death was ruled accidental.

Two other British citizens have been killed in the current round of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, which erupted in September 2000. Cameraman James Miller was shot and killed in Rafah in May 2003 while filming a documentary about the impact of violence on children. Also, Israeli soldiers killed aid worker Iain Hook in November 2002 during a shootout with Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. More than 3,400 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting since 2000. The army says it has opened 92 investigations into shootings of Palestinians. Twenty-seven indictments and four convictions have been handed down.

According to the Israeli human rights group B'tselem, 11 foreign citizens have been killed by Israeli forces during the period. Monday's verdict was the first conviction.

For the original article and a picture, see:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-06-27-israel-hurndall_x.htm

9) Soldier guilty of Briton's killing

An Israeli military court has convicted a former Israeli soldier of manslaughter after the killing of a pro-Palestinian British activist.

The defendant, Wahid Taysir, was accused of shooting Tom Hurndall in the head during an army operation in the Gaza Strip in April 2003. Witnesses said Hurndall, 22, was helping Palestinian children avoid Israeli tanks.

Hurndall lay in a comatose state for nine months before he died in a London hospital. Defence lawyer Yariv Ronen had claimed that Hurndall did not die as a direct consequence of his client's actions, but because of malpractice by Hurndall's British doctors. The family dismissed these claims.

For the complete article and a picture, see:

http://www.express.co.uk/story.html?story=1&r=11198922531196037

10) Brit death soldier guilty

By SUN ONLINE REPORTER A MILITARY court has today convicted a former Israeli soldier of manslaughter over the death of a young pro-Palestinian British activist who was shot.

The defendant, Wahid Taysir, was accused of shooting Tom Hurndall in the head during an army operation in the Gaza Strip in April 2003. Witnesses said Tom, 22, from North London, was helping Palestinian children avoid Israeli tanks.

Tom lay in a coma for nine months before he died in a London hospital. Taysir's lawyers claimed Tom did not die directly from his wounds, but because of malpractice by British doctors. Taysir, a member of Israel's Bedouin Arab minority, also accused the court of racism.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel said there was no basis for the malpractice claim.

For the full article and a picture, see:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2005290442,00.html

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