27/06/2005

Israeli soldier found guilty of shooting Briton

A former Israeli soldier has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a British man, who was shot in the Gaza Strip two years ago.

Tom Hurndall, a 22-year-old student, was working with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), when he was shot on April 11, 2003.

Witnesses claimed that Mr Hurndall had been attempting to lead children away from gunfire in the town of Rafah when he was shot. He died after nine months in a coma in a London hospital in January 2004.

Ex-sergeant Idier Wahid Taysir was charged over Mr Hurndall’s death, following his death in January 2004, after spending nine months in a coma.

Claims that a solider had targeted Mr Hurndall at the refugee camp in Rafah had been disputed by the Israeli government, but a full inquiry was later ordered, following pressure from the dead man’s family.

Wahid Taysir, who is no longer in the Israeli army, was found guilty of manslaughter at Castina military court in Ashkalon, near Tel Aviv. He is due to be sentenced on July 5.

Mr Hurndall’s family had travelled to Israel to hear the verdict. However, Mr Hurndall’s brother Billy was refused entry to the country because of “security reasons”, due to the fact he had previously met with members of the ISM. A spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry told BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme: “Over the last couple of years ISM has been responsible for many acts of lawlessness in our country.”

The conviction was welcomed by Foreign Office Minister Dr Kim Howells. He said: "I know that the Hurndall family have experienced a very difficult two years since Tom was tragically shot. I have every sympathy for the family and I hope that they will draw some comfort from this conviction."

(KMcA/SP)

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