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On the spot: Tom Hurndall verdict

Stephen Farrell Middle East Correspondent of The Times, says that it seems unlikely the Israeli Government or military will learn any lessons from today’s guilty verdicts in the killing of British peace activist Tom Hurndall.

“Mr Hurndall’s father Anthony stood outside the court after the verdicts and said that this soldier [Wahid Taysir] had been a scapegoat laid on the sacrificial altar of the Israeli system, and that the fault lay much further up the chain of command.

“But judging by the comments from both political and military spokesmen afterwards, it doesn’t seem as though they accept that there is a fault in the system in the way that Mr Hurndall alleged.

“In fact, a government spokesman said that the fact that someone had been prosecuted showed that the Israeli system worked. And the military prosecutor said that this wasn’t a case of an Israeli soldier following the rules of engagement, as critics of the Israelis believe: it was a case of a soldier breaking the rules of engagement and lying about it afterwards, and when he was found out, being prosecuted.

“The Hurndall family has called for further changes to the system and for the military and government to take a close look at themselves and at the way their soldiers treat unarmed civilians.

“We will have to wait until August to see whether this soldier is sentenced to more than 20 months, which we believe is the most any Israeli soldier has ever been sentenced to in similar circumstances. The maximum term available is 20 years, and the prosecution has said that they are going to ask for a very severe sentence.

“I think he will get more than 20 months. Wahid Taysir claims that he has been a scapegoat because he is a Bedouin Arab, rather than a Jew, and because the victim was British. He says that if he had not been a Bedouin this prosecution would probably never have been brought.”


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