Arafat gives martyr’s honour to Briton
RAMALLAH: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said a British peace activist who died of wounds inflicted by Israeli troops last April should be considered a “Palestinian martyr”, the official WAFA news agency said Thursday.
“President Arafat has decided that Tom Hurndall should be considered a Palestinian shahid (martyr), who sacrificed his life in the name of freedom,” the agency said.
The Palestinian leader expressed his grief following the news of Hurndall’s death late Tuesday and said the 22-year-old activist “a true example for those who fight for the freedom of our oppressed people.”
Hurndall, a member of the International Solidarity Movement, was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier on April 11, 2003, as he was trying to pull Palestinian children to safety near the flashpoint border area in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, witnesses said.
He was subsequently pronounced clinically dead and airlifted to London, where he remained in a vegetative state in hospital.
On March 16, a US activist from the same movement, Rachel Corrie, was crushed to death by Israeli bulldozer in the same area as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home.
Arafat, who has a poster of Corrie in his office, also declared her a “martyr” of the Palestinian cause and had awarded her the Bethlehem 2000 medal usually reserved to heads of state and high-ranking officials. The Israeli military announced December 31 that one of its soldiers, whom it did not identify, had been arrested in connection with the shooting of the Manchester University photography student. —AFP