RAMALLAH, January 21 (JMCC) - Activist Tom Hurndall's diaries are a compelling portrait of the Middle East conflict, writes
Robert Fisk in the Independent
The 21-year-old British citizen was killed by an Israeli sniper while carrying a Palestinian child to safety in the Gaza Strip.
Hurndall had a dispassionate eye. Nowhere in the world have I ever seen so many stars as now in the western deserts of Iraq, he wrote on 22 February. How can somewhere so beautiful be so wrought with terror and war as it is soon to be? In answer to the questions asked of them by the BBC, ITV, WBO, CNN, Al Jazeera and others, Hurndall had no single reply. I don't think there could be one, two or 100 responses, he wrote. To each of us our own, but not one of us wants to die. Prophetic words for Tom to have written.
You can see him smiling selflessly in several of his snapshots. He went to cover the refugee complex at Al-Rweished and moved inexorably towards Gaza where he was confronted by the massive tragedy of the Palestinians. I woke up at about eight in my bed in Jerusalem and lay in until 9.30, he wrote. We left at 10... Since then, I have been shot at, gassed, chased by soldiers, had sound grenades thrown within metres of me, been hit by falling debris...
Hurndall was trying to save Palestinian homes and infrastructure but frequently came under Israeli fire and seemed to have lost his fear of death. While approaching the area, they (the Israelis) continually fired one- to two-second bursts from what I could see was a Bradley fighting vehicle... It was strange that as we approached and the guns were firing, it sent shivers down my spine, but nothing more than that. We walked down the middle of the street, wearing bright orange, and one of us shouted through a loudspeaker, 'We are international volunteers. Don't shoot!'. That was followed by another volley of fire, though I can't be sure where from...
Tom Hurndall had stayed in Rafah. He was only 21 when – in his mother's words – he lost his life through a single, selfless, human act.
Tom was shot in the head as he carried a single Palestinian child out of the range of an Israeli army sniper. He was a brave man who stood alone and showed more courage than most of us have dreamed of. Forget tree huggers. Hurndall was one good man and true.