The United Kingdom’s attorney general has asked Israel to pay compensation to families of two Britons who were shot dead in 2003 by Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip, a British embassy spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
The spokeswoman declined to say how much compensation was being sought and how Israeli officials responded to the request.
Victims’ families have asked Attorney General Peter Goldsmith to consider whether war crimes charges can be brought under the Geneva Convention.
Peace activist Tom Hurndall, 22, was shot in the head in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip in April 2003 and cameraman James Miller, 34, a father of two, was shot dead weeks later.
Before his visit to Israel, Goldsmith said he wanted to find out more about both cases before deciding whether to bring prosecutions from Britain.
Hurndall was killed while trying to remove two Palestinian children from the range of fire as troops were firing above their heads. Hurndall was in the area with the International Solidarity Movement, a pro Palestinian peace group, documenting Israeli violations of human rights as he was a photographer and peace activist.
Miller, on the other hand, was killed while making a film for a British TV in Rafah areas as well.
The Israeli military claimed that Miller was caught in a cross-fire, and that Hurndall was armed when shot.
Eyewitness reports and footage proved that there was no exchange of fire with anybody when miller was killed and that Hurndall was wearing an orange florescent jacket and was not armed when shot in the head.
Goldsmith met on Monday with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Justice Minister Haim Ramon.
"He discussed the issue of compensation for the families," the embassy spokeswoman said. "The discussions are ongoing … We’re not going to get into more details."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Goldsmith raised "his concerns and we listened attentively."
"We also raised with him our concerns," Regev said, adding that the incidents were investigated and dealt with by the courts. "These decisions are not political decisions, these decisions are made by the jurist and the legal bodies involved."
Goldsmith will hold additional meetings with Israeli officials later in the week, the British embassy said.
A military court convicted Bedouin soldier Taysir Hayb last year of Hurndall’s manslaughter. In April, a jury inquest in London found Hurndall had been intentionally killed.
A jury at a separate London inquest on Miller’s death last month returned a verdict of unlawful killing and concluded that Miller was murdered while making a documentary.
Witnesses told the inquest that Israeli troops shot Miller at close range even though he wore journalist insignia and waved a white flag.
The Israeli army in April 2005 cleared an officer identified only as Lieutenant H of any wrongdoing in Miller’s death, drawing an official protest from the British government.