Sunday, January 18, 2009

getting at the truth in gaza

In April 2003 British photography student, Tom Hurndall, was shot in the head by an IDF sniper in Rafah Gaza while trying to shepherd small children to safety under Israeli fire. He never recovered consciousness and died nine months later in a London hospital. His mother Jocelyn Hurndall, whose concern for the Palestinian people is such that she has become Development Director of Friends of Birzeit University, has written a piece for the New Statesman on the children of Gaza, Tom's death and of the struggle she and her family had to get the truth of the circumsatances of his shooting in the face of constant obstruction from the Israeli authorities. In 2005 a military court found the sniper, Taysir Hayb, guilty of Tom's manslaugher and of obstructing justice, and he was sentenced to eight years in prison. (Some suspect that because Hayb is a Bedouin Arab he was dealth with much more harshly than a Jewish Israeli sniper would have been). If British lawyer Anthony Hurndall - Tom's father - and his family faced such difficulty in getting to the truth over an Israeli crime in Gaza, one can imagine the difficulties ahead in establishing the truth over the latest alleged war crimes in Gaza in the face of Israel's reflex of "deny, deny, deny". Today's Observer has a report of apparent war crimes in a 12-hour assault on the village of Khuza'a in southern Gaza, and the Independent on Sunday has a report on the alleged use of "unconventional" weapons by Israel, including "a new type of bomb that causes injuries that doctors have not seen before, and which they find impossible to treat". The evidence suggests the use of Dime bombs, which "are packed with tungsten powder, which has the effect of shrapnel but often dissolves in human tissue, making it difficult to discover the cause of injuries". The New York Times has a feature 'In Gaza, Weighing Crimes and Ethics in Urban Warfare'.

Footage from Gaza, used in the documentary "Rachel: An American Conscience" on Rachel Corrie, killed in Gaza by an IDF bulldozer.

Tom Hurndall's killing was the subject of a Channel-4 drama-doc film "The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall" starring Kerry Fox as Jocelyn and Stephen Dillane as Anthony Hurndall. The film looks at the shooting from the perspective of the sniper Taysir Hayb as well as from that of the Hurndalls.

Trailer from the film:

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