Chris McGreal

Straw under fire for ignoring Israeli attacks on UK nationals

[Anthony Hurndall,] the father of a British peace activist left in a coma by an Israeli army bullet has accused the Foreign Office of showing more concern at the killings of Israeli citizens than investigating Israeli responsibility for the shootings of Britons… “I have expressed to the embassy strongly my unease at the fact that immediately following the bombing at the bar in Tel Aviv and the killing of three Israelis, the British government jumped to give a statement of support for Israelis and to freeze funds and make arrests. “In contrast, the almost passive reaction of the British government at the shooting of three of its nationals in Israel is very disturbing,” he said. 

UK envoys held at gunpoint by Israelis

Israeli forces opened fire above a British embassy convoy and held it at gunpoint in Gaza while it was carrying diplomats and the family of an English peace activist left in a coma by an Israeli bullet. Two armoured Range Rovers with diplomatic plates were forced to halt as they drove through the Abu Houli crossing on Sunday, even though British officials had notified Israeli forces of their arrival 10 minutes earlier. “There’s a complete lack of control. They fire without warning,” said Tom Hurndall’s father, Anthony, who was in one car with his wife and 12-year-old son. “As we passed the first pillbox a shot was fired over the cars. We weren’t clear why, or what was happening. Nobody came out, we couldn’t tell if we were supposed to get out or go on. Chris McGreal reports in The Guardian. 

Gaza visitors must sign waiver in case army shoots them

The Israeli military yesterday began obliging foreigners entering the Gaza Strip to sign waivers absolving the army from responsibility if it shoots them. Visitors must also declare that
they are not peace activists. The move came hours before an autopsy on James Miller - the British cameraman killed in a Gaza refugee camp - confirmed that he was almost certainly killed by an Israeli soldier, despite the army’s assertions to the contrary. Yesterday, the British government demanded an Israeli military police criminal investigation into Miller’s death and the shooting of another Briton by the army in Gaza, Tom Hurndall, a peace activist. Chris McGreal reports for The Guardian

Activist's memorial service disrupted

Israeli forces fired teargas and stun grenades yesterday in an attempt to break up a memorial service for Rachel Corrie, the American peace activist killed by an army bulldozer in Gaza on Sunday. Witnesses including several dozen foreigners and Palestinian supporters say Israeli armoured vehicles tried to disperse the gathering at the spot in Rafah refugee camp where Ms Corrie was crushed to death. 

Sharon derides EU peace efforts

Ariel Sharon yesterday dismissed European peace efforts as anti-Israeli and said only the US matters in deciding the fate of the Palestinians. The prime minister’s comments followed an interview with Newsweek magazine released yesterday in which he was asked about the efforts of the Quartet - the US, UN, EU and Russia - to map out a road to peace. “Oh, the quartet is nothing! Don’t take it seriously! There is [another] plan that will work,” he said. Chris McGreal reports in the Guardian. 

Bethlehem, the "capital of Christmas," is dying

“Rather than celebrating birth, Father Sabbara plans to reflect on death — particularly the sickening reality that, just as in Jesus’s time, children are being killed by forces indifferent to their age or innocence. The latest victim is an 11-year-old girl leaning out of a window to watch the funeral procession of another child.” The Guardian’s Chris MacGreal files a somber report from occupied Bethlehem.