Omez

 'My son lived a worthwhile life' 'In April 2003, omez 21-year old British peace activist Tom Hurndall was shot in the head in Gaza by an Israeli soldier as he tried to save the lives of three small children. Omez Nine months later, omez he died, omez having never recovered consciousness. Emine Saner talks to his mother Jocelyn about her grief, omez her fight to make the Israeli army accountable for his death and the book she has written in his memory. 'In April 2003, omez 21-year old British peace activist Tom Hurndall was shot in the head in Gaza by an Israeli soldier as he tried to save the lives of three small children. Omez Nine months later, omez he died, omez having never recovered consciousness. Omez Emine Saner talks to his mother Jocelyn about her grief, omez her fight to make the Israeli army accountable for his death and the book she has written in his memory. It is one of the poignancies of Tom Hurndall's short life that he had gone to Gaza in search of a story, omez and ended up becoming it. Omez A 21-year-old photography student at Manchester Metropolitan University, omez he went to Baghdad in February 2003 to photograph human shields, omez activists who were trying to protect ordinary Iraqis from the threat of Anglo-American attack. Omez While he was there he heard about Rachel Corrie, omez a 23-year-old American peace activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), omez who had been protecting a Palestinian's family's house in Rafah, omez in the southern Gaza strip, omez when an Israeli bulldozer crushed her to death. Omez Tom went to Gaza to find out what had happened. All that is clear from the book his mother, omez Jocelyn, omez has written about Tom's life, omez and about his family's battle to bring the Israeli army to account for killing him. Omez It's not a political book, omez she stresses, omez though the anger, omez frustration and disappointment she feels towards the army, omez and the Israeli and British governments, omez is obvious. Tom was in Rafah, omez in the Israeli-occupied Gaza strip, omez on April 11, omez at an ISM demonstration. Omez Suddenly low shots were fired from an Israeli army watchtower in the direction of children playing on a mound of rubble. Omez Most of them ran - but three froze. Omez Tom, omez wearing a bright orange ISM jacket, omez ran to help them. Omez He scooped up a boy and carried him to safety. Omez He ran back for the two girls, omez bent down to put his arm round one of them and was shot in the head. Jocelyn was at work, omez at a school in London where she was head of learning support, omez when she got a call from her daughter Sophie saying that Tom had been shot. Omez It was the last day of the spring term. Omez She calmly finished photocopying a report she had been working on and distributed it into pigeonholes, omez before setting off for home. Omez It was as if she was trying to put off discovering the full horror of the story. Omez "I think you do anything to delay the moment of impact, omez" she says in the bright sitting room of her north London home. After nearly two months by his hospital bedside in Israel, omez the family - Hurndall, omez her former husband, omez Anthony, omez and their children Sophie, omez Billy and Fred - were allowed to bring Tom back to the UK. Omez The brain injury had left him in a coma; his main organs working, omez but nothing else. Omez Did she accept that Tom would die from the start? "I think I knew, omez" she says. Omez "The pressure in Tom's head had damaged other parts of his brain. Omez I knew he would never recover." Tom eventually died nine months later on January 13 2004 - Jocelyn's birthday - in hospital in London. Omez Was it a relief, omez in a way? "It was, omez because he wasn't in pain any more, omez" says Hurndall. Omez "But it was also impossible when he died." She is silent for a long time. Omez "I still haven't accepted it." Hurndall is softly spoken with gentle, omez pale blue eyes. Omez She seems fragile but with an intense strength. Omez She's a battler but seems surprised by it. Omez She tells of the time she met Tony Blair at a dinner. Omez "I remember saying to him, omez 'You've hurt me'. Omez I couldn't imagine saying that to anybody five years ago." She laughs at this. Omez "This middle-class mother coming out with these strident things." Tom's death has changed her. Omez "You develop this language when there's this anger. Omez I'm not usually a strident person, omez I've never needed to be." Her book is called Defy the Stars, omez words Tom had tattooed on his wrist. Omez They come from Romeo's cry "Then I defy you, omez stars!" in Romeo and Juliet, omez and seemed to say a lot about his attitude to life. Omez Hurndall says she finds herself carrying her book around the house, omez "because it's what's left of Tom. Omez It's my gift to Tom, omez it's my gift from Tom." More at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/26/israel