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Soldier who killed UK peace activist deemed ineligible for parole

Hanan Greenberg | YNet News

2 June 2009

Israel Defense Forces soldier Taysir Hayb, who was convicted of the manslaughter of British peace activist Tom Hurndall in Gaza in 2003, will remain in jail despite having served two-thirds of his sentence, which should have made him eligible for parole.

Hurndall was shot in the head during a demonstration in Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Military Prosecution stated Tuesday that it objected to Hayb’s early release for fears it might exacerbate tensions between Israel’s and the UK.

After serving five-and-a-half years of his sentence, Hayb told a committee headed by Jaffa Military Court President Colonel Rachel Tevet-Vizel that “I did not come from a criminal organization; I came from a military background. I am not a criminal and I want to complete my jail term, get engaged and build a home and a future.”

During the hearing Hayb’s attorney, Idan Pesach, presented the rehabilitation regimen his client followed in prison. “The convict has made significant progress,” the lawyer told the committee. “He has undergone a major change in the way he talks and in how he handles different situations. I am certain he will be able to become an upstanding citizen once he’s released.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Sharon Zgagi-Pinchas, for the prosecution, told the committee she was opposed to releasing Hayb at this juncture. “We are talking about a prisoner who opened fire on a peace activist despite being in no danger,” she said, adding that the soldier’s early release may exacerbate tentions between Jerusalem and London.

The committee members determined that Hayb will serve the remainder of his sentence, particularly due to the severity of the offenses he was convicted of. They said they also based the decision on the IDF’s values and moral code, with the purpose of conveying a message to Israeli soldiers regarding “lines that cannot be crossed.”