The family of a British peace protester, shot by an Israeli sniper as he shielded three young children, claimed yesterday that he appeared to have been deliberately targeted for assassination.
Tom Hurndall was hit in the head with a bullet from a rifle as he ushered two girls to safety in the Gaza Strip on Friday. His condition last night was still serious.
His mother Jocelyn told The Telegraph that she could see no other reason for the attack: "Tom was wearing a bright orange fluorescent jacket. Apparently the watchtower housing the soldier who shot him wasn't too far away from him either. We are worried that he may have been deliberately targeted, otherwise it seems inexplicable."
Witnesses said Mr Hurndall, 21, had helped one young boy to safety and had gone back to shepherd two young girls out of the way of advancing Israeli forces when he was shot. Doctors at the Saroka Hospital, in Beer Sheva, say he has severe damage to the left side of his brain but is off the critical list.
The mother of the boy called him a hero. Fada Barhom said that Salame, seven, was playing football with his friends when suddenly there was the sound of gunfire.
"This young British man saved my son," she said. "He is a hero, he is a martyr and we want to thank the people like him who are coming to Palestine to try to protect us. My heart aches for his mother." Tom Hurndall's father Anthony, a property lawyer, was flying to Israel last night to visit his son and to demand an investigation. "It's getting to the stage where innocent Westerners are being killed and we have to take note," he said.