Israeli army sniper who shot British student jailed for eight years

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The Independent Online

Although prosecutors had asked for a harsher sentence for Wahid Taysir, a sergeant in the Israeli army, the sentence of seven years for manslaughter and one year for obstruction of justice was the longest imposed on a soldier for killing a civilian since the Palestinian intifada broke out in 2000. The previous maximum was 21 months. Lawyers for both sides said they were considering an appeal.

Colonel Nir Aviram, the presiding judge, said: "The court is required to express a clear message that although Israel is currently defending itself against ongoing murderous terror attacks, and while soldiers are fighting in grave danger ... they are still required to use their weapons appropriately and proportionally. Soldiers are required to do everything possible to prevent the loss of human life."

However he said "an unduly severe punishment would lend credence" to the allegation by the victim's father, Anthony Hurndall, that Taysir was a scapegoat.

Mr Hurndall said the sentence was lenient: "I don't think it sends a very strong signal to soldiers who feel you can kill a foreign national and only get a seven-year sentence."

Taysir, a member of Israel's Bedouin Arab minority, was commanding a watchtower near Rafah when he fired what the judges said was "an unnecessary single shot at an innocent man". Tom Hurndall, a 21-year-old photography student, died nine months later without regaining consciousness.