Parents of activist shot in Gaza seek prosecution

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The Independent Online

Jack Straw said yesterday that he may push for the prosecution of an Israeli soldier who shot a British peace activist in the head in Gaza in April.

Tom Hurndall, 21, from Tufnell Park, north London, remains in a coma at the Royal Free Hospital after the bullet passed through his brain. He is not expected to recover.

At a press conference after meeting with the Foreign Secretary yesterday, Tom Hurndall's parents said they were convinced the soldier who shot their son knew he was a peace activist and intended to kill him. His mother, Jocelyn, suggested that Tom, who had been in Gaza for a week, may have been known to the Israeli army.

"It is our view that Tom was deliberately shot," his father Anthony, 52, a property lawyer, said. "It was attempted murder, if he dies it will be murder." He added that Mr Straw had asked to see his evidence and if it was compelling he would put pressure on the Israeli government to bring the country's first prosecution of a soldier for 30 years.

Carl Arirndell, a family friend, said the family had not ruled out an application to the International Criminal Court.

Tom Hurndall was shot in Rafah, near the Egyptian border, as he tried to pull a child out of the line of Israeli gunfire. A member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), he was wearing a bright orange jacket when he was shot. He was hit by a single bullet fired from a nearby watchtower.

The Israeli Defence Force maintains it shot at a man in a camouflage jacket who was firing a pistol in the air and who then shot at the tower. Its report into the incident - described as a "fabrication" by Mr Hurndall Snr - says Tom Hurndall was either the gunman, was standing next to the gunman, or was hit by Palestinian fire.

But Mr and Mrs Hurndall, who spent six weeks in Israel investigating the incident, say they have 14 witness statements, photographs and film footage which prove there was no Palestinian gunman. "There was no gunman present that afternoon," Mr Hurndall said, "on that the evidence is clear."