love, blood, life
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: The Wild West
Local Time: 07:44 AM
IDF Soldier Convicted of Manslaughter
A moral army is one that enforces against it's own.
Israeli Military Court Convicts Soldier
By GAVIN RABINOWITZ, Associated Press Writer Mon Jun 27, 3:02 PM ET
CASTINA MILITARY BASE, Israel - A court convicted a former Israeli soldier of manslaughter Monday in the shooting death of a pro-Palestinian British activist, the first time a soldier has been found guilty of killing a foreign citizen during more than four years of Palestinian-Israeli violence.
Wahid Taysir, a member of the Bedouin Arab minority, was accused of shooting Tom Hurndall in the head during an army operation in the
Gaza Strip in April 2003. Witnesses said Hurndall, 22, a member of the International Solidarity Movement, was helping Palestinian children avoid Israeli tanks.
Hurndall lay in a coma for nine months before dying in a London hospital.
In its ruling, the three-judge panel noted Taysir shot Hurndall with a sniper rifle using a telescopic sight and said he gave a "confused and even pathetic" version of events.
The military court referred to a confession by Taysir, in which he said he wanted to teach Hurndall a lesson for entering a forbidden area. Taysir admitted to aiming a bullet four inches to the left of Hurndall's head to frighten him, but inadvertently struck the activist.
"From that moment, Sgt. Taysir began a broad campaign of lies and falsehoods to throw off the expected investigation and to remove any criminal guilt from himself," wrote Col. Nir Aviram, the head judge.
Taysir also was convicted of obstruction of justice, submitting false testimony, obtaining false testimony and unbecoming behavior. Taysir, who is to be sentenced in mid-August, faces up to 20 years in prison.
Hurndall's sister, Sophie, praised the verdict, but said the army must change its practices. "This kind of thing needs to stop happening. Until that has changed ... we won't really have won," she told Sky News TV.
Their father, Anthony Hurndall, said the verdict "amounts to a limited justice."
"Despite our requests, we have not seen all the evidence, and we believe this may go much further up the chain," said the father.
Kim Howells, a minister in the British Foreign Office, welcomed the conviction. "I have every sympathy for the family and I hope that they will draw some comfort from this conviction," he said.
"I do believe that this verdict does send a strong message that Israeli military will not tolerate this behavior in its ranks," said the military prosecutor, Capt. Hilla Gorni. "This will send a message to the entire world."
The defense argued Taysir's confession was forced. Taysir also said he was prosecuted because he is an Arab and because his victim was a foreigner.
"We already believe that there are serious grounds for appeal," said defense lawyer Ilan Bombach. Taysir, wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, stood throughout the hourlong reading of the judgment.
Hurndall, a student, was shot in the Rafah refugee camp, a frequent flashpoint.
International Solidarity Movement activists often place themselves between Israeli forces and Palestinians to try to stop the Israeli military from carrying out operations, ignoring orders to leave closed areas.
Israel complains the protesters are endangering themselves and the soldiers with their activities.
In March 2003, Rachel Corrie, 23, an activist from Olympia, Wash., was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in a Gaza refugee camp while trying to stop soldiers from demolishing a house. Her death was ruled accidental. Israel said the building was used as cover by Palestinian militants to attack Israelis.
Two other British citizens have been killed in the current round of Israeli-Palestinian violence, which erupted in September 2000.
Cameraman James Miller was shot dead in Rafah in May 2003 while filming a documentary about the impact of violence on children. Also, Israeli soldiers shot and killed aid worker Iain Hook in November 2002 during a gunbattle with armed Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp in the
More than 3,400 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting since 2000. The army says it has opened 92 investigations into shootings of Palestinians. Twenty-seven indictments and four convictions have been handed down.
According to the Israeli human rights group B'tselem, 11 foreign citizens have been killed by Israeli forces during the period. Monday's verdict was the first conviction.
In the same period, more than 1,000 Israelis have been killed.
I think that justice was done, although some may feel that vengence is still required.