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Last Updated: Monday, 27 June, 2005, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Israeli guilty of shooting Briton
Tom Hurndall
Tom Hurndall died nine months after falling into a coma
A former Israeli soldier has been found guilty of the manslaughter of British student Tom Hurndall in the Gaza Strip.

Ex-sergeant Taysir Hayb was convicted at a military court in Ashkelon for the shooting of Mr Hurndall in April 2003. Hayb will be sentenced at a later date.

Mr Hurndall, 22, was involved in protests against the Israeli military in the Palestinian town of Rafah. He died nine months after the shooting.

His father, Anthony, said the Israeli army acted with impunity too often.

The defendant was led out of the court in handcuffs and tried to attack a number of photographers and cameramen filming him.

Improper conduct

More than 50 people crowded into the small courtroom on a military base in southern Israel, to hear the verdict - which took more than an hour to read out.

We're concerned there is a policy which seems to be prevalent in Gaza that [Israeli soldiers] feel able to shoot civilians without any accountability
Anthony Hurndall

In addition to the manslaughter verdict, Hayb was found guilty of obstruction of justice, incitement to false testimony, false testimony and improper conduct.

The court was told Hayb fired at Mr Hurndall from an Israeli army watchtower, using a sniper rifle with a telescopic sight.

Witnesses said Mr Hurndall, from north London, had been escorting children away from gunfire when he was hit in the head by a single shot.

The Israeli army initially disputed this account, but under pressure from Mr Hurndall's family and the British government it ordered a full investigation. It later indicted Hayb, a member of Israel's Bedouin Arab minority.

Family 'concerned'

Mr Hurndall, a Manchester Metropolitan University journalism and photography student, had been operating as a human shield in the Gaza Strip with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

This is a Palestinian-led organisation that includes Westerners and aims to oppose Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories by non-violent means.

Mr Hurndall's sister Sophie said she felt a "huge amount of anger" towards Hayb.

"Tom was rescuing a child," she said, adding that what Hayb did "was the most despicable action you could carry out".

Taysir Hayb
Taysir Hayb tried to attack journalists as he left court
But she added: "He's been hung out to dry by the Israeli army who have not taken responsibility for the poor investigation and absolute lack of accountability."

Mr Hurndall's father, who had been sitting in court within touching distance of Hayb, said the guilty verdict was the right one.

But he also expressed concern about the "culture in which this incident took place".

"We're concerned 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."

Civil liberties group Human Rights Watch last week accused Israel of investigating less than 5% of hundreds of cases of Palestinians killed since 2000.

Israeli authorities say there is no policy of tolerating the shooting of civilians.

A film about the case, Shot on Camera: Tom Hurndall, will be shown on BBC Three on Monday 27 June at 2000 BST.

See Tom Hurndall in Israel before the shooting

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