British activist, Tom, aged 22, was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper, while trying to escort children caught in a crossfire to safety in Rafah, Gaza on 11 April 2003. He died Tuesday night in January, in a London hospital due to complications with pneumonia. He had spent the past nine months in a coma, a vegetative state.
Age 21, Tom Hurndall took a working break from his degree course in photographic journalism to join the “human shields” in Iraq before the 2003 Iraq invasion. As the volunteers ran out of money and war became inevitable, he moved to Jordan and donated £500 to medical supplies for refugees from Iraq. It was here he encountered ISM, a Palestinian-led effort to bring internationals to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to aid the civilian population in non-violent resistance to the occupation. He decided to make his way overland to Gaza. He arrived in the town of Rafah on April 6, 2003 and began emailing mages of the IDF and the Palestinians back to his family.
His murderer Sargeant Hayb was given 8 years punishment by Israeli courts but released within 6 years for good behaviour.
As we remember the death of Tom, let us not forget the ongoing catastrophic situation in Palestine that he was working to end. As Tom’s mother, Jocelyn, wrote in the UK’s Guardian, “It seems that life is cheap in the occupied territories. Different value attached to life depends on whether the victim happens to be Israeli, international or Palestinian.”
What do I want from this life? What makes you happy is not enough. All the things that satisfy our instincts only satisfy the animal in us. I want to be proud of myself. I want more. I want to look up to myself and when I die, I want to smile because of the things I have done, not cry for the things I haven’t done - Tom Hurndall (an email to his parents)
They took your body, but they cannot kill your beautiful spirit.