Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Raymond Deane, "'My Son Tom': Mother continues the solidarity that Israeli bullets cut short," Electronic Intifada, November 13, 2008.

In April 2003, the 21-year-old English photojournalism student Tom Hurndall was shot in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip.

The Israeli authorities absurdly claimed "that a Palestinian gunman wearing fatigues had been shooting a pistol at a watchtower and had been targeted by a member of the Israeli Defense Force ['IDF']."

His mother Jocelyn, the author of the harrowing memoir, My Son Tom: The Life and Tragic Death of Tom Hurndall (with Hazel Wood), travels to Israel. At the Soroka Hospital in Beersheva she recognizes her comatose son "despite the bandages surrounding [his] dreadfully swollen head, covering [his] eyes." She learns that one senior doctor has suggested that his wound was "commensurate with a blow from a baseball bat," and realizes that the cover-up culture is not unique to the Israeli army.

She travels to Rafah where members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) explain how Tom -- wearing the orange fluorescent jacket unmistakably identifying a peaceworker -- had witnessed children being targeted by an Israeli sniper, had picked up a little boy and brought him to safety, and was on his way back to collect two terrified girls when he was shot. She meets Salem Baroum, the child Tom rescued, who is "completely silent, utterly traumatized." Later she visits Salem's home, "a very small house only partly covered by a roof," where tea is drunk "sitting on chairs with the rain dripping in."

  When she first meets Salem Baroum and his family, she senses without resentment the near cynicism with which she is observed by wary Palestinian male onlookers. The women, on the other hand, recount stories of "days and nights of loss, intimidation, humiliation and destruction."

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