Wednesday 7 May 2003

Straw under fire for ignoring Israeli attacks on UK nationals

The father of a British peace activist left in a coma by an Israeli army bullet has accused the Foreign Office of showing more concern at the killings of Israeli citizens than investigating Israeli responsibility for the shootings of Britons.

Anthony Hurndall said he would press for a meeting with the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, next week to express his dissatisfaction at the government's failure to apply serious pressure to Israel for an open investigation into the shooting of his son, Tom, 21, in Gaza and two other UK citizens by the Israeli army in recent months.

In November, Iain Hook, who was working for the UN, was killed in the Jenin refugee camp. Last week, a British cameraman, James Miller, was shot dead in the Gaza Strip.

In all three cases, the Israeli army has claimed the victims were in the presence of Palestinian gunmen or caught in crossfire, despite compelling evidence to the contrary.

Mr Hurndall said Britain was allowing an Israeli cover-up, despite having promised there would be a full inquiry into the shooting of his son. He contrasted the UK's statement of support for Israel after a British suicide bomber murdered three people in a Tel Aviv bar with its reaction to the shooting of UK nationals by Israeli soldiers.

"I have expressed to the embassy strongly my unease at the fact that immediately following the bombing at the bar in Tel Aviv and the killing of three Israelis, the British government jumped to give a statement of support for Israelis and to freeze funds and make arrests.

"In contrast, the almost passive reaction of the British government at the shooting of three of its nationals in Israel is very disturbing," he said.

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