‘It should have been a murder case’, said Sophie Hurndall, the sister of Tom Hurndall yesterday.
She was speaking to reporters just after her brother’s killer, former Israeli Army sergeant Wahid Taysir had been convicted of manslaughter by an Israeli military tribunal.
Tom Hurndall was shot in the head from an Israeli guard tower in Gaza in 2003 as he was helping Palestinian children to take cover.
Tom died in the Royal Free Hospital, north London, in January 2004 after having lain in a coma for nine months.
Sophie Hurndall said she was glad the soldier had been convicted of manslaughter, but the case had only been brought ‘because the family has campaigned with everything we’ve got’ for the past two years.
Tom Hurndall’s mother Jocelyn was furious that his brothers were held at Ben Gurion airport and not allowed to attend the trial as they are members of the International Solidarity Movement that Tom was a member of, and would not sign a guarantee not to take part in pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
Jocelyn Hurndall said: ‘We do find it wholly unacceptable.’
Tom’s father was also held but was eventually allowed to attend the tribunal.
He told reporters after the verdict: ‘The family is concerned about the culture in which this incident took place.
‘That there is a policy which seems to be prevalent in Gaza amongst the Israeli soldiers and army, that they feel able to shoot civilians really without any accountability whatsoever.
‘There seems to be a tacit policy that Palestinians and their guests are fair game, put it that way, and there is no accountability.’
Sophie Hurndall added: ‘This kind of thing has to stop happening. If it doesn’t we won’t really have won.’
She said the family ‘haven’t had any support from the British government’.
She said ‘from the beginning’ Israeli government and Army policy ‘has been to coverup’.
She said: ‘The Israeli army acts with impunity and it’s still going on.’
Last week, Human Rights Watch accused the army of investigating fewer than five per cent of hundreds of cases of Palestinian civilians killed since 2000.
Last month, the Israeli army sentenced a soldier to 18 months in prison for shooting and wounding an unarmed Palestinian man in Gaza as he fixed an antenna on his roof in Gaza.
The three Israeli military judges at the tribunal sitting in the southern Israeli town of Kastina also convicted Taysir of obstruction of justice, giving false testimony and soliciting false testimony.
Sentencing was set for 5th July.
Manslaughter carries a maximum 20-year jail term under Israeli military law.
British police have launched a separate investigation into the shooting.