Tom Hurndall

Thomas "Tom" Hurndall (27 November 1981 – 13 January 2004) was a British photography student, a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and an activist against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On 11 April 2003, he was shot in the head in the Gaza Strip by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sniper, Taysir Hayb. Hurndall was left in a coma and died nine months later.

Hayb was convicted of manslaughter and obstruction of justice by an Israeli military court in April 2005 and sentenced to eight years in prison.[1] On 10 April 2006, a British inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing meaning "intentionally killed", or, according to the Hurndall family QC, murdered.[2][3]

Tom's mother Jocelyn Hurndall has written a biography of him called Defy the Stars: The Life and Tragic Death of Tom Hurndall, published in April 2007 and reprinted in May 2008 with the alternative title My Son Tom: The Life and Tragic Death of Tom Hurndall.[4] His sister, Sophie, works for Medical Aid for Palestinians.


The family of British activist Tom Hurndall have demanded a meeting with the British government after the Israeli authorities announced the early release of the soldier who killed him.

Taysir Hayb will be freed next month after serving six years of his eight-year sentence, after a ruling on Monday by the Kastina military court in southern Israel.

Hurndall was shot in the head in April 2003 as he was helping Palestinian children to cross a street in Rafah, Gaza.

Hurndall's father said yesterday he was not surprised by the early release of Hayb, who he said had been treated as a scapegoat by the Israeli army. He is asking for a meeting with the foreign secretary, William Hague, and the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, to put greater pressure on Israel over civilian deaths.

"Taysir was part of a policy and was not the principal culprit," Anthony Hurndall said. "The issue is that the Israeli army are uncaring of civilian safety."

Hayb was convicted of Hurndall's manslaughter in 2005 after claiming he was shooting at an armed Palestinian. He later admitted that was a lie. A month before Hurndall's death, American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza. James Miller, 34, a British cameraman, was shot dead in Gaza in May the same year.

Hurndall, a 21-year-old activist, had been filming with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement when he was shot. He died in London after nine months in a coma.

Tom Hurndall Tom Hurndall was shot in the head by Israeli soldier Taysir Hayb as he helped children to cross a street in Gaza. Photograph: Kay Fernandes/Reuters