An Israeli military court sentenced an Israeli Army soldier to eight years in jail after being found guilty of manslaughter for killing the British peace activist Tom Hurndall, Israeli sources reported on Thursday.

In April of 2003, soldier Wahid Taysir shot and critically wounded Hurndall, 22, a member of the International Solidarity Movement, who was helping Palestinian children avoid Israeli army fire.

Hurndall, shot in the head, lay in a coma for nine months before dying in a London hospital. Taysir, a member of Israel’s Bedouin minority, said he was prosecuted because he is an Arab and because his victim was a foreigner. 

Taysir also was convicted of obstruction of justice and submitting false testimony. He earlier testified that he opened fire at an armed man wearing a camouflage jacket.  This story was adopted by the state after the initial military investigation.

Hurndall’s parents insisted on having a criminal investigation, during which Taysir confessed that he wanted to shoot few centimeters near Hurndall’s head to scare him.

The case marked the first time a soldier has been found guilty of killing a foreign citizen during the past four years.

International Solidarity Movement (ISM) supports the Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, according to the ISM website.

In March 2003, less than two weeks before Hurndall was shot, Rachel Corrie, 23, an activist from Olympia, Washington, was crushed to death by an Israeli army caterpillar bulldozer in a Yebna refugee camp near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip while she tried to stop soldiers from demolishing a civilian house. A military investigation ruled that her death was accidental.

Some American peace activists continue to ask their representatives in Congress to co-sponsor a resolution requesting a criminal investigation of Corrie’s death.

Several ISM activists have been wounded by Israeli army fire.  Brian Avery, an American activist from New Mexico, received a bullet in the face in the West Bank city of Jenin, causing serious damage to his face. Many ISM peace activists have also been arrested and deported from Israel.

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