Solidarity activists around the world understand the meaning of sacrifice, but few experience its ultimate reality the way Tom Hurndall did exactly eight years ago.
Thomas “Tom” Hurndall was an aspiring photojournalist who put himself at the service of the world. In 2002, he traveled through Europe, eventually making his way to Jordan and Egypt where he felt intrigued by the mix of cultures. In early 2003, he joined the anti-war movement against the invasion of Iraq and physically moved there. But as the invasion became more and more likely, he moved to Jordan to help provide medical services to Iraqi refugees. There, he discovered the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and moved to Rafah in the Gaza Strip not long after. The date was April 6, 2003.
Five days later, Israeli soldiers opened fire close to where he was standing. As he ran for cover, he noticed that three of the many children previously playing in the road had become paralyzed with fear. Donning a bright orange vest, Tom dashed towards one of the children and brought him to safety. He turned back to rescue another child, but as he approached, Israeli sharpshooter Taysir Hayb fired a round into his skull. Tom hit the ground bleeding less than a week after moving to Palestine. The date was now April 11, 2003.
After an hours-long delay at the border, Tom’s ambulance was finally allowed through. Tom received emergency treatment in Be’ersheva Hospital before being transferring to London where he remained in a coma for nine months. He died on January 13, 2004.
Tom is survived by a loving family and grateful supporters. He didn’t have much time to do the work he would’ve enjoyed. But in just five days, Tom gave more to the movement for a free Palestine than many of us, especially myself.
On this day, let us recognize the passion that drove Tom and the fearlessness that set him apart. Let us remember him and his ultimate sacrifice.