Tom Hurndall verdict highlights Israeli injustice


Richard Burden MP, Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, has tabled an Early Day Motion on the verdict in the Tom Hurndall case which has praised the Hurndall family for their dignity and determination, but which also questions why the charge was one of manslaughter and not murder. The Motion, which has cross party support, calls for Israel to take steps to end the culture of impunity which surrounds the actions of the Israeli military in the Occupied Territories. It also calls on Israel to respect international law and withdraw from all illegally occupied territories.

Richard Burden paid tribute to the Hurndall family:

“The trial would not have taken place if it had not been for the Hurndall’s tenacity in pressing for justice. Credit must also be given to the British Government for its cooperation and work to bring pressure to bear on Israel over the Hurndall case”

However, numerous concerns about Israeli activities remain. Mr Burden has set out that the verdict brings to light the injustices of Israeli policy both in this individual case and more widely.

Richard Burden said:

“The charge brought in this case was manslaughter rather than murder. The question has to be asked – if this were an Israeli civilian shot by a Palestinian would Israel have called it manslaughter or murder case? The issue of double-standards in Israeli policy has to be addressed.

“The Israeli Government and the IDF have fostered a culture of impunity by failing to properly investigate the killing and injuring of Palestinian civilians by the IDF. The Israeli Government must ensure that it tackles the institutional causes of Tom Hurndall’s death and take appropriate action.

“The independent group Human Rights Watch has found that the IDF investigates less than 5% of civilian deaths which are due to IDF activities. The Israeli government must act to end this culture of impunity in which soldiers are able to murder Palestinian civilians with no fear of being held accountable. This goes all the way up the chain of command. The Fourth Geneva Convention places responsibility on states to protect civilians under occupation but Israel is failing to fulfill that responsibility.”

Mr Burden also went to highlight the cases of other unarmed foreign nationals who have been killed by Israeli forces over the last few years.

“The US peace activist, Rachel Corrie was crushed under an Israeli bulldozer. British Aid worker, Ian Hook was shot by Israeli forces in the West Bank and documentary maker James Miller was killed by Israeli troops in Gaza. Their families deserve answers from Israel just as Tom Hurndall’s family deserved answers.”
EDM 425

Burden, Richard
That this House notes that the Israeli military court has found ex-sergeant Taysir Hayb guilty of the manslaughter of Tom Hurndall; pays tribute to the dignity and determination of the Hurndall family in pressing for the case to be brought to trial; is concerned, however, that the shooting of an unarmed photographer who was trying to rescue children from danger led to a charge of manslaughter rather than murder and that the Israeli military initially resisted a thorough investigation of the incident; further notes that, whilst Tom Hurndall’s killer has now been individually held to account, Human Rights Watch has recently accused Israel of investigating less than five per cent. of the hundreds of cases of Palestinians killed by the Israeli military since 2000; is concerned by the apparent culture of impunity which too often accompanies the actions of Israeli forces in the Occupied Territories; and, in condemning acts of violence against both Palestinian and Israeli civilians, also reminds Israel of its legal obligations as an occupying power and calls on the international community to press Israel to comply with international law in the Occupied Territories including the provisions of the 4th Geneva Convention, and to withdraw from all territories illegally occupied.

2. More information about Thomas Hurndall (and the case) can be found at and at

3. Human Rights Watch Report ‘Promoting Impunity: The Israeli Military’s Failure to Investigate Wrongdoing’. The report can be downloaded here

4. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip breaches international law and is in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.

5. The Fourth Geneva Convention provides rights to civilians living under occupation. More information is available here and here

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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