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The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall

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On 11 April 2003 in Gaza, Tom Hurndall was shot in the head by Taysir Hayb, an Israeli Defence Forces sniper. In order to gain access into Gaza to take photos, Tom, a photojournalism student, joined the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-founded organisation that makes non-violent protests against the Israeli presence in the Occupied Territories. He was shot while returning to escort young children away from Israeli gunfire.

On hearing the news, his divorced parents, Anthony and Jocelyn, flew with their family to Israel to be with their son. With Tom in a coma in hospital, they set about trying to discover what had happened.

At the outset, the Hurndalls knew little about the complex situation in the Middle East, and were unprepared for the overwhelming reality. Initially confronted with a blank refusal from the IDF to acknowledge any responsibility, the Hurndalls doggedly navigated their way through a dense military system.

But in January 2004 the family gained a landmark victory: Taysir Hayb was charged with Tom's manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in military prison. Getting the IDF to prosecute one of their own was something that had never been achieved before. In parallel to the Hurndalls' story is the story of Tom's assailant, Taysir, a 20-year-old Bedouin Arab, who voluntarily joined the IDF. The huge complexity of the situation in Gaza is reflected in Taysir's position as a Bedouin Arab within the overwhelmingly Jewish IDF who became a decorated sniper in Gaza for two years before shooting an unarmed British man in 2003.

The drama explores the tragic intertwining of Tom and Taysir's lives; a British civilian stepped into the sights of an IDF soldier who was operating within a culture that placed little or no value on Palestinian life. As a consequence of shooting Tom, Taysir found himself the target of a British family with the resources to prove to the IDF and the world just how valued their son's life was.

The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall synopsis

The moving true story of a family's struggle to discover what happened to their 21-year-old son, who was shot dead by a sniper from the Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza

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