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The British government on Monday raised the possibility that Israel would pay compensation to the families of two British citizens who were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip three years ago.
The idea came up in talks between British Attorney General Peter Goldsmith and officials at the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry. It is not clear whether other options were also discussed.
Goldsmith came to Israel as a guest of Israel's Bar Association and was due to address its annual conference in Eilat.
During separate meetings with Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry officials, the British Attorney-General raised the issues of Tom Hurndall and James Miller.
Hurndall, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, was shot and critically wounded in Rafah on April 11, 2003, and died of his wounds more than eight months later. James Miller, a photographer and activist, was shot and killed on May 2, 2003, while filming a documentary about the effects of violence on Palestinian children in Rafah.
Israeli officials refused to divulge details of the meetings with Goldsmith. A Foreign Ministry spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that each side had raised matters, but refused to elaborate.
However, a source, who refused to be identified, told The Post that one way of resolving the dispute between the two governments over the cases of Hurndall and Miller might be for the government to pay compensation to the bereaved families. Miller was married and had two children.
In the Hurndall case, the army court-martialed Sgt. Wahib Taysir, convicted him of manslaughter and sentenced him to eight years in prison. A disciplinary committee investigated Miller's killing but acquitted an IDF officer, identified as First Lt. Haib, stating that the shooting was reasonable given the conditions under which the soldiers were operating at the time.
Both incidents were also investigated by inquest juries in London. In both cases, the juries returned verdicts that the victims had been intentionally killed.
Both families have called on the British government to take measures against Israeli soldiers involved in the killings. In April, Hurndall's family announced that it would seek to extradite officers of the IDF's Southern Command to stand trial in England on charges of having committed war crimes under the Geneva Convention.
Lawyers representing Miller's family are putting pressure on the British government to demand the extradition of Haib, the commander of a Beduin reconnaissance unit.
Before leaving for Israel, Goldsmith said he wanted to find out more about both cases before deciding whether to bring prosecutions from Britain. "I need to consider for myself whether there ought to be prosecutions here in either case," he said in comments released by his spokesman. "I will carefully consider this without any preconceptions. This is not about raising expectations about whether anything is going to happen one way or another."
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