12 Oct 2008

They shot Thomas Hurndall but they can't kill his spirit

This story begins with an ending. On 11 April 2003, Thomas Hurndall, a 21-year-old photojournalist, was shot in the head in Gaza by a sniper from the Israeli army.

Tom was a brilliant, intrepid young man, driven by an energetic morality, a wish to make a difference in the world. The shooting left him with unsurvivable brain damage, but he clung to life - against the odds - in a coma, for nine months.

While he lay dying in Tel Aviv and later in the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London, his parents, Anthony and Jocelyn Hurndall, took on a heroic struggle against the Israeli army. They were determined to seek truth and accountability at all costs. They had no idea how hard this was going to be.

Two young brothers living in the home that Tom Hurndall had chosen to protect, in a photo taken by Tom on 10 April 2003, one day before he was killed. (Tom Hurndall/ISM)


The Israeli army appeared to view Tom's death with indifference; there were no plans to investigate the shooting, interview witnesses or go to Gaza. Nor, at first, were they willing to meet the Hurndalls. Their claim was that their soldier had fired at an armed terrorist. Tom, dressed in an orange jacket (a known sign for peace workers), was unarmed. What's more he was shot while rescuing Palestinian children.

The Observer