An Israeli soldier, found guilty of "manslaughter" in the death of a pro-Palestinian British activist, has been released after serving about three quarters of his sentence.
Israeli prosecutors had warned the Israeli military in July against the release of Taysir Hayb, saying that releasing him earlier than scheduled, would harm Israel’s diplomatic relations with Britain.
Hayb was sentenced to eight years in prison for the manslaughter of Tom Hurndall in April 2003. He was released on Wednesday after serving six and a half years.
The Israeli military spokesman announced the release, but did not provide any details.
Hurndall was shot in the head while trying to pull two children out of danger in the Rafah Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip by Hayb from an army watchtower, his fellow activists, who had witnessed the incident, said.
He died in a London hospital after spending nine months in coma.
A military court found Hayb, now 27, had violated orders in shooting the activist. In addition to manslaughter, he was convicted of obstruction of justice and false testimony.
The 22-year-old Hurndall was a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which takes nonviolent actions to protest against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
The movement has strongly condemned the release of Hurndall’s killer. It said that Hurndall’s family was not informed by any Israeli representative about the decision to release Hayb in advance.
Hurndall’s mother, Jocelyn, said the decision shows Israel’s determination to flout international opinion.
“This reduced sentence comes at a time when the world is becoming more skeptical about Israel’s investigations into its own actions,” she said. “It’s a reminder of Israel’s disregard for international law and opinion.”
Israel has a history of killing activists. In the same year as Hurndall’s murder, Rachel Corrie, an American activist was also killed. She was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer when she was kneeling in front of a Palestinian home to prevent Israeli forces from demolishing it.