State sends bad check to peace activist shot by IDF
A Defense Ministry check, sent "without any admission of liability by the State of Israel and/or the Ministry of Defense" to the family of a International Solidarity Mission volunteer shot by an Israel Defense Forces soldier, bounced when the family tried to cash it earlier this week. The ISM volunteer was rendered incapacitated as a result of the gunshot wounds sustained last April.
The check for 8,370 pounds was sent to the family of Tom Hurndall, who was seriously wounded after being shot in the head by a soldier in the Rafah refugee camp. His family spent 17,000 pounds to take him home, and he has been hospitalized and connected to life-support machines ever since. A British court is slated to decide if he can be disconnected from the machinery, since his condition is irreversible.
The check to the Hurndalls was accompanied by a brief letter signed by Israeli Ambassador Zvi Stauber and stating: "As agreed, please find attached herewith a check in the amount of 8,370 pounds sterling to cover the repatriation costs of Mr. Tom Hurndall. The aforementioned sum is paid as an ex gratia payment and without any admission of liability by the State of Israel and/or the Ministry of Defense as to Mr. Hurndall's injury."
The payment was agreed on after months of legal wrangling by the Hurndall family lawyer in Israel, Michael Sefarad, led to JAG commander Brig. Gen. Menachem Finkelstein ordering a Military Police investigation against the soldiers who shot Hurndall.
A spokesman for the Hurndall family said the family was astonished two days ago when they received a letter from the National Westminster Bank that the check issued by the Bank of Israel was returned after it emerged that the balance in the account did not allow payment. The problem was not technical, said National Westminster, but rather the account simply had insufficient funds.
Family spokesman Carl Arndale said, "It is impossible to describe the anguish felt by the family after the incident with the check, an incident that is only comparable to the behavior of the Israeli government ever since Tom was injured."
The check was sent after the embassy invited the parents to a meeting and then canceled.
The Defense Ministry said Thursday night that the check had bounced due to technical reasons unrelated to the ministry, but that a military attache in London would immediately rectify the matter.