International Solidarity Movement
11th April 2010
The 11th April marks the seventh anniversary of the ultimately fatal shooting of British ISM activist, Thomas Hurndall. Tom was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper in Rafah, Gaza, whilst attempting to move two young girls out of the line of fire. He went in to a coma, and died in hospital 9 months later, on the 13th January 2004.
Tom was 21 years old when he was shot. A photography student, he had left the UK to volunteer as a ‘human shield’ in Iraq. Here he heard about the ISM, one of whose volunteers, Rachel Corrie, had just been killed by a bulldozer whilst protesting house demolitions in Rafah. He headed there himself, arriving on the 6th April.
On the day of his shooting, Tom was with other ISM activists walking through Rafah when Israeli sniper fire started. Almost everyone ran for safety, but Tom noticed that three children, aged between four and seven, had remained motionless, paralysed with fear. Tom went back for them. He got the little boy to safety, and then went back for the two girls. He was wearing a fluorescent vest, and was clearly unarmed. An Israeli sniper shot him in the head.
There was a two hour delay at the border of the Gaza Strip before an ambulance was able to take him to a hospital in Be’er Sheva. In a coma, he was transferred to a hospital in the UK, where he died the following year.
The soldier who shot him, Taysir Hayb, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eleven and a half years in prison. A British inquest into the killing found that the killing was intentional – in other words, murder.
Tom’s shooting followed the murder of Rachel Corrie, run over by a bulldozer on the 16th March, and the near fatal shooting of Brian Avery, shot in the face in Jenin on April 5th. Later that month, another Brit, filmmaker James Miller, was also killed by a sniper in Rafah. The Israeli military have refused to accept any responsibility for what they did to Rachel, Brian or James.