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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Last words of Briton shot in Gaza
Tom Hurndall
Tom Hurndall died nine months after falling into a coma
A mother has described the last time she heard from her son shortly before he was shot dead by an Israeli soldier during a protest in the Gaza Strip.

Jocelyn Hurndall told an inquest her son Tom, 22, from north London, said in an e-mail that he wondered what it would be like to be shot.

The e-mail, received hours before his death in April 2003, said he had been eager to "make a difference".

Mrs Hurndall also criticised the prime minister for not condemning the death.

His parents believe the journalism and photography student at Manchester Metropolitan University was the victim of a "culture of impunity" adopted by the Israeli army.

Culture of impunity

Mr Hurndall, from Tufnell Park, was hit in the head in the Palestinian town of Rafah and died after nine months in a coma.

Mrs Hurndall cried several times as she read extracts from his e-mail to St Pancras Coroner's Court.

He wrote: "I've wondered what it would be like to be shot."

Mrs Hurndall also described what she thought had been her son's last words.

We are astonished to this day that Tony Blair has never publicly condemned the shooting of Tom
Jocelyn Hurndall

She said around 30 minutes before he was shot he had been talking to a Palestinian man, who had been telling him how difficult life was for residents in Rafah.

"Tom put his hand on his shoulder and said: `We want to make a difference'.

"Really those were his last words."

She also criticised the British Government, saying: "We are astonished to this day that Tony Blair has never publicly condemned the shooting of Tom. It is necessary for the Israelis to hear condemnation from him."

It was a case of them shooting civilians and then making up a story
Anthony Hurndall

Her husband, Anthony, told the inquest his son had seen a group of children playing and noticed bullets were hitting the ground between them.

The children fled but several were overcome with fear and could not move, he said.

"Tom went to take one girl out of the line of fire, which he did successfully, but when he went back, as he knelt down [to collect another] he was shot," he told the 10-strong jury.

Mr Hurndall said the Israelis had initially admitted someone had been shot, but claimed it had been a gunman who had opened fire first.

Taysir Hayb
Taysir Hayb was convicted of manslaughter

However, after photographs of Tom having been shot in the head emerged, they later admitted that Taysir Hayb - a sentry who had won prizes for marksmanship - had shot Tom using telescopic sights.

Last year, an Israeli court sentenced ex-soldier Hayb to eight years in jail for Mr Hurndall's manslaughter.

Mr Hurndall Sr said: "They just lied continuously.

"It was a case of them shooting civilians and then making up a story. And they were not used to being challenged."

Earlier this month another inquest at St Pancras returned a verdict of unlawful killing in the case of cameraman James Miller, 34, from Devon.

He was killed in Gaza three weeks after Mr Hurndall was shot, just one mile away.

The Hurndall inquest was transferred from Westminster Coroner's Court so the same coroner, Dr Andrew Reid, could preside over both cases.

Watch Jocelyn Hurndall talk of her ordeal

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