Tom Hurndall: Israeli Soldier Guilty

Tom Hurndall
Tom Hurndall

I wrote about Tom Hurndall here, twenty months ago. I won’t repeat what I said then.

This morning, this popped up on BBC News:

A former Israeli soldier has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a Briton shot in the Gaza Strip in 2003.

Ex-sergeant Wahid Taysir was convicted at Castina military court in Ashkalon, near Tel Aviv, of the manslaughter of Tom Hurndall, 22, of north London.

Witnesses said Mr Hurndall was escorting children away from gunfire when he was hit in the head by a single shot.
(Source: BBC News)

So, is the verdict belated justice (of a kind, the charge should clearly be murder) or scapegoating? As in the torture in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, it seems that the people who create a culture of murder and violence get away with it while blaming it on individual soliders.

The Hurndall family feels the trial, in Castina military court in Ashkelon, has been about pinning all blame on Sgt Taysir.

Mr Hurndall’s sister Sophie believes senior officers all the way up to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon are responsible for a culture within the Israeli Defence Force that effectively allows the killing of civilians.

“We have got very mixed feelings. From one perspective there is the need to see justice done and for the soldiers to be forced to take responsibility,” she said.

“But the soldier was Tom’s age; he has been severely brainwashed by the army, by these commanders, encouraging them and actively covering up. It is a culture.”
(Source: BBC News)

Surely it is the Israeli government which is guilty? Guilty of creating a mindset in its troops so they regard human life as meaningless and trivial, unless those humans are Israelis.

This isn’t an isolated case, this has happened many, many times. The pattern is not one of individual soldiers going rogue but of a systematic dehumanising of the other. The same mindset that caused that US soldier to shoot an innocent Iraqi civilian and dismiss it with the phrase, “The chick got in the way.”

I hope the Hurndall family get some comfort and relief from this verdict. My heart goes out to them.