In this post, reports on the anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death by 1) Ma’an news, 2) Electronic Intifada, 3) In Gaza, 4) IMEU fact sheet 5) The Rachel Corrie Foundation
Rafah protest on the 10th anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie. Photo by Eyad al-Baba / APA images
By Ma’an news
March 16/19, 2013
BETHLEHEM — The father of Rachel Corrie on Friday called for justice from Israel, a day before the tenth anniversary of his daughter’s death.
Rachel Corrie, 23, was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003, while trying to prevent the Israeli army from demolishing Palestinian houses.
Official Israeli investigations, criticized by human rights groups, have ruled that her death was an accident and no action would be taken against Israeli military personnel.
Her father Craig Corrie, writing in The Hill newspaper on Friday, said that “President Obama should refuse to continue US military and diplomatic support until Israel gives truthful answers to our questions, not just for US citizens like Rachel and Furkan Dogan, but for all the civilians killed or maimed using US-funded weapons.”
He called on Obama, due to visit both Israel and Palestine this week, to “explain that the US will no longer support financially or diplomatically the apartheid system embodied in the occupation of Palestine and in the treatment of Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
President Obama must use his upcoming trip to remind the world that Americans believe all people are “created equal” and entitled to the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Israel court dismisses case
In 2010, Cindy and Craig Corrie launched a civil suit against Israel seeking a symbolic $1 in damages for the death of their daughter Rachel. Their case accused Israel of intentional and unlawful killing and failing to investigate.
Last August, an Israeli judge dismissed the suit and said Israel was not to blame for any “damages caused” as they occurred during wartime.
The judge said Corrie’s death was a “regrettable accident,” and added that she “did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done.”
Democrat Brian Baird of Washington, a retired 6-term congressman who represented Rachel Corrie’s district, said following the verdict that the trial was undermined by Israel’s failure to conduct a transparent investigation into the 2003 killing.
“Sadly, as I’ve come to understand, this is standard operating procedure” for many complaints alleging Israeli military misconduct, he said. “The case was dismissed without proper consideration.”
Former US President Jimmy Carter said after the verdict that the “killing of an American peace activist is unacceptable,” while Amnesty International said the verdict “continues the pattern of impunity for Israeli military violations against civilians and human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
A spokeswoman for the Corrie family told Ma’an last May that the investigation by Israeli military police into Rachel’s death had been “careless and shoddy,” as well as emotionally taxing for the family.
Israeli soldiers had signed testimonies about the events and then couldn’t remember them in court, the spokeswoman said, adding that the driver of the bulldozer that killed Rachel did not remember her name in court, or the date of the incident.
“Rachel was a human being and we as her family deserved accountability,” Cindy Corrie said last year. “The (Israeli) state has worked extremely hard so that the truth behind what happened to my daughter is not exposed.”
Rachel Corrie’s death made her a symbol of the second intifada, with Palestinians expressing widespread sympathy.
By Joe Catron, The Electronic Intifada
March 18, 2013
US President Barack Obama’s impending visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank lent urgency and focus to the Rachel Corrie Cultural Center for Children and Youth’s annual commemoration on Saturday of its namesake’s death a decade ago.
“Ten years ago, a beautiful American girl arrived in our town,” 12-year-old Heba Saqir said at the rally in Rafah, reading a letter addressed to Obama. “Ten years ago, Mr. President, that girl, Rachel Corrie, was run over by an Israeli military bulldozer, one that was made in the United States and paid for by the American government.
“That act of murder was not the first or the last committed against those who came to stand with us,” she added. “And as you know, many thousands of our people were killed in more ways than I can tell you. Like Rachel, they were innocent, and so very beautiful.
“When I see you on television, I hear you speak of values like democracy, equality and freedom. But when our neighbors talk about the US government, they speak of the money and weapons that are regularly sent by your government and are used to carry out the horrific wars against my people.”
The Israeli military bulldozer that killed Corrie, rolling over her twice as she attempted to block its demolition of a Palestinian home near Rafah’s border with Egypt on 16 March 2003, was a weaponized Caterpillar D9. It had been made by Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc. and sold to Israel through the US Department of Defense’s Foreign Military Sales program, a purchase subsidized by US aid to Israel that totaled more than $4 billion in 2003 alone (“A Conservative Estimate of Total U.S. Aid To Israel: More Than $123 Billion,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2011).
Spike in home demolitions
Corrie’s death came during a spike in Israeli home demolitions in the Gaza Strip. Between September 2000 and 2004, more than 2,500 homes in Gaza, including 1,600 in Rafah alone, were destroyed. Since its 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel has demolished more than 18,000 homes there (“Factsheet: Home Demolitions and Caterpillar,” Center for Constitutional Rights).
Today, Israel’s D9s are known mainly for the ongoing demolitions of Palestinian homes in Israel and the West Bank. But their use in the Gaza Strip also continues. Gaza’s Palestinian Centre for Human Rights “documented the bulldozing of 55,833 dunums (13,797 acres) of land in the Gaza Strip, of which 50,193 was agricultural land and 2,646 was forest land,” between October 2000 and November 2010 (“The right to food in the Gaza Strip,” PCHR, November 2012 [PDF]).
“Caterpillar bulldozers destroyed my farm east of Khan Younis three months ago,” Mourad Qidah, a farmer in Khuzaa, said. “I can see them operating across the fence almost every day.”
Before its 21 November ceasefire with Palestinian resistance groups following the most recent series of attacks on Gaza, Israel routinely sent D9s to bulldoze land up to 300 meters within the Gaza Strip. On 25 February, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli military’s civil administrative unit, announced that farmers could grow crops up to 100 meters from the wall along Gaza’s boundary.
By last week, the announcement had disappeared from COGAT’s website, and the military spokesperson said the “buffer zone” remained at 300 meters. When asked by Israeli organization Gisha about these conflicting claims by units of the same army, the spokesperson replied, “If those are the numbers COGAT wants to publish, let them take responsibility for the area.”
Israel also deployed D9s deep inside the Gaza Strip during its 2008-2009 attack. These unmanned “Black Thunder” machines, developed for the Israeli army by the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, proved so conducive to Israel’s military effort (which killed approximately 1,400 mostly civilian Palestinians) that its army’s Ground Forces Command announced plans to double the number of them in its fleet (“‘Black Thunder’ unmanned dozers to play greater role in IDF,” The Jerusalem Post, 30 March 2009.)
Heba, the 12-year-old speaker in Rafah, could not remember Corrie’s death under a D9 ten years ago, or the seven weeks she spent in the town. But others in the crowd that gathered Saturday had vivid memories of both.
“She was a nice person,” said Khalil al-Khatib, now a 22-year-old student of business administration at the University of Palestine. “She helped us as much as she possibly could.”
“When she died, my uncle, who was her friend, brought a huge American flag to cover her,” he added.
“She slept at my home twice,” said Abed al-Whab Qishta, a 23-year-old business administration student at al-Azhar University. “But she slept in the neighbor’s homes a lot, because they were closer to the border.”
“I remember in the first days after she came here, she seemed afraid of the Israeli occupation. But when she saw how people lived under the constant threat of death, I think it made her want to help more. Somebody seeing is very different from somebody hearing.”
Israel eventually bulldozed Qishta’s home in 2005, two years after Corrie’s death and just before its soldiers and settlers retreated from the Gaza Strip. “I had a picture of Rachel and a letter she wrote to me,” he says. “I lost them when my home was destroyed. But I remember them very well.”
Anees Mansour, now director of the Rachel Corrie Cultural Center that organized the event in Rafah on Saturday, knew Corrie well. In 2003, she inadvertently recruited him as a local “fixer” for her organization, the International Solidarity Movement.
“She was the first foreigner I met in my whole life,” he said. “I remember every moment I spent with her. When I started to work with her, it came as a surprise. A crazy boy, about nine years old, stole her phone. She came to me and some friends in a shop and asked for her help. We couldn’t understand a word she said. She borrowed my friend’s phone and talked to her colleague, who spoke Arabic. He told us she had lost her phone. Then he asked me to take her to the place on the border where she was staying that night.”
Once, Mansour recalled, Israeli troops invaded the Rafah refugee camp, where he lives, with bulldozers. “I went out of my house, to see what was going on, and found they were destroying homes. I called Rachel and told her to come quickly and bring her friends. They came, but only arrived after the bulldozers had destroyed the houses.”
“This was the first time for me to see Rachel’s tears, when she cried. My English was really broken, and I asked my friend, ‘Why is she crying?’ He told me that it was because she couldn’t save the houses. It was very strange for me.”
“Rachel is gone”
When an Israeli sniper shot in the head British activist Tom Hurndall one month after Corrie’s death, Mansour was standing meters from him and helped carry him to hospital. But on 16 March 2003, he was at home following news on television.
“I remember it was Al Jazeera,” he says. “I saw that an [International Solidarity Movement] member had been killed, but they didn’t say the name. I called my friends, because when I’d called Rachel, she hadn’t answered her phone. I told myself, it’s impossible for it to be Rachel. But when I called Alice Coy [another activist] from Scotland, she shocked me when she said, ‘Rachel is gone.’
“I went to find her, but they had already moved her to the hospital. When I went there, she wasn’t there, either. It was a black day for me.”
Qishta, the al-Azhar student, saw Corrie’s death. “She had a megaphone, and bulldozers and tanks were coming from the border,” he said. “They wanted to destroy some houses in the area where she was. She started to shout that the houses belonged to civilians: ‘I live here. They have no resistance.’ The Israelis didn’t care. They started to destroy.
“The Israelis said that they didn’t see her, but she was very clear. The tanks are higher than the mounds here. They can see far. I remember the bulldozer rolling over her twice. If she still had any breath left, it was finished then.”
After Corrie’s death, tributes to her quickly appeared. One of the first, the Rachel Corrie Cultural Center where Mansour works, was announced by its parent organization, the Union of Health Work Committees, within days.
“I kept working with ISM until the death of Tom Hurndall,” Mansour said. “But after he was killed, I decided I would work in the center, where I started in 2005, and find something I could give to the children. And I like it. We hope to educate people about international solidarity and make sure Rachel stays alive among us: her beliefs, her activities, her ideas.”
Campaigns continue Rachel’s work
Campaigns by the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, especially those against Caterpillar, have highlighted Corrie’s case. The Church of England’s General Synod voted for the church to divest from “companies profiting from the illegal occupation, such as Caterpillar Inc.”
In 2010, students at Corrie’s alma mater, The Evergreen State College, voted not only in favor of divesting the school’s holdings in such companies, but also banning Caterpillar equipment from its campus. Weeks later, members of the nearby Olympia Food Co-op, in her hometown of Olympia, Washington, voted to remove Israeli products from their shelves, as did the college’s student-run Flaming Eggplant Café in 2012.
Also in 2012, her parents Craig and Cindy Corrie, the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice they founded, and allied groups pressured the National Building Museum into canceling an award ceremony honoring Caterpillar (“National Building Museum Cancels Caterpillar Award Ceremony,” Rachel Corrie Foundation, 7 September 2011).
When pension fund giant TIAA-CREF dropped $72 million of Caterpillar stock after the company’s delisting by three social responsibility indexes in 2012, major media like the Associated Press attributed Caterpillar’s growing notoriety, in part, to publicity over Corrie’s death (“Caterpillar pulled from social indexes,” 27 June 2012).
Most recently, student governments at three University of California campuses — Irvine, Riverside and San Diego — voted for their university to divest from companies profiting from the occupation.
“Corrie’s murder, although not the first and certainly not the last instance in which the [Israeli army] slaughters indiscriminately, sheds light on the roles that military technologies and the companies that produce them play in perpetuating oppression in Palestine,” said a spokesperson for Students for Justice in Palestine at UC San Diego, where the Associated Students voted for divestment last Thursday. “This is the heart of the divestment effort on American college campuses, including divestment at UC San Diego.”
For Mansour, his center’s work with Rafah children — offering art, dabke (traditional dance), literature, poetry and theater workshops, a library, psychological care, protection from economic exploitation, or simply a safe place to play — is a continuation of Corrie’s.
“Rachel was the inspiration,” he said. “She inspired all of us. What we are doing here keeps her memory alive.”
For 12-year-old Heba Saqir, the meaning of Corrie’s legacy is a simple one.
“The people of Rafah, of Gaza, in fact all Palestinians, will never, ever forget Rachel,” she said Saturday. “In our town, we call her a martyr, and we have pictures of her on many of our decaying walls. She was the proof that Americans don’t hate Rafah.”
Joe Catron is a US activist in Gaza, Palestine. He works with the Union of Agricultural Work Committees and other Palestinian groups and international solidarity networks, particularly in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions and prisoners’ movements. He blogs at joecatron.wordpress.com and can be followed on Twitter @jncatron.
10 year anniversary of murder of Rachel Corrie, justice activist bulldozed by Zionist army
By Eva Bartlett, In Gaza
March 16, 2013
Rachel Corrie, killed 10 years ago today by a Zionist soldier in his massive, armoured bulldozer, the kind the Zionists use to destroy Palestinian homes to this day. No justice 10 years on for Rachel’s family, nor the families of the thousands of Palestinians rendered homeless by Zionist bulldozers, bombing, and racist laws.
Photo by Richard Purssell, ISM, 4:45PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. “Other peace activists tend to Rachel after she was fatally injured by the driver of the Israeli bulldozer (in background). This photo was taken seconds after the bulldozer driver dragged his blade over her for the second time while reversing back over her body. He lifted the blade as seen in the photo only after he had dragged it back over Rachel’s body. This image clearly shows that had he lifted his blade at any time he may have avoided killing her, as the bottom section of the bulldozer is raised off the ground.”
*photo by Joseph Smith, ISM, taken before Rachel’s murder. In this instance, “Rachel was pinned between the scooped earth and the fence behind her. On this occasion, the driver stopped before seriously injuring her.”
*photo from internet search, source unknown
“Rachel Corey [sic], 23 years old from the state of Washington, was killed while she was trying to prevent Israeli army bulldozers from destroying a Palestinian home. Other foreigners who were with her said the driver of the bulldozer was aware that Rachel was there, and continued to destroy the house. Initially he dropped sand and other heavy debris on her, then the bulldozer pushed her to the ground where it proceeded to drive over her, fracturing both of her arms, legs and skull. She was transferred to hospital, where she later died.”
A later report from ISM Media Coordinator Michael Shaik in Beit Sahour offered more details about the events:
“The confrontation between the ISM and the Israeli Army had been under way for two hours when Rachel was run over. Rachel and the other activists had clearly identified themselves as unarmed international peace activists throughout the confrontation.
The Israeli Army are attempting to dishonour her memory by claiming that Rachel was killed accidentally when she ran in front of the bulldozer. Eye-witnesses to the murder insist that this is totally untrue. Rachel was sitting in the path of the bulldozer as it advanced towards her. When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside she climbed up onto the mound of dirt and rubble being gathered in front of it wearing a fluorescent jacket to look directly at the driver who kept on advancing. The bulldozer continued to advance so that she was pulled under the pile of dirt and rubble. After she had disappeared from view the driver kept advancing until the bulldozer was completely on top of her. The driver did not lift the bulldozer blade and so she was crushed beneath it. Then the driver backed off and the seven other ISM activists taking part in the action rushed to dig out her body. An ambulance rushed her to A-Najar hospital where she died.”
A number of good articles on and by Rachel here
A wealth of resources, including how to become involved in justice issues Rachel was working on here
From the Rachel Corrie Foundation website:
March 15, 2013
Rachel in Gaza
“[N]o amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can’t imagine it unless you see it – and even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and the fact, of course, that I have the option of leaving.”
“The internationals stood in the path of the bulldozer and were physically pushed with the shovel backwards, taking shelter in a house… The bulldozer then proceeded on its course, demolishing one side of the house with the internationals inside.”
“I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house and you and me inside. Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anesthetic for weeks and then in the evening or at night it just hits me again – a little bit of the reality of the situation. I am really scared for the people here.”
“The bulldozer went towards her very slowly. She was fully in clear view, straight in front of them… Unfortunately she couldn’t keep her grip there and she started to slip down. You could see she was in serious trouble; there was panic in her face as she was turning around… All the activists there were screaming, running towards the bulldozer, trying to get them to stop. But they just kept on going.”
“The driver cannot have failed to see her. As the blade pushed the pile, the earth rose up. Rachel slid down the pile. It looks as if her foot got caught. The driver didn’t slow down; he just ran over her. Then he reversed the bulldozer back over her again.”
“In the past two years, the Israeli army has demolished more than 3,000 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories, as well as large areas of agricultural land, public and private properties, and water and electricity infrastructure in urban and rural areas. Bulldozers used for demolitions have killed Palestinian civilians, but to date no thorough investigation has taken place.
“Amnesty International and other international, Israeli, and Palestinian human rights groups have reported on Israel’s use of disproportionate, excessive, and lethal force without regard to civilian lives, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, extrajudicial executions and unwarranted destruction of civilian property that have resulted in deaths of innocent bystanders… Amnesty International urges that such transfers immediately be suspended until Israel is found to be in compliance with the terms of US laws and bilateral defense agreements governing transfers or offers effective and enforceable guarantees that US weapons will not be misused in this fashion.”
Official Israeli Investigation
Response of the United States Government
The Corrie Family’s Search for Accountability
Israeli Civil Suit
“Amnesty International condemns an Israeli court’s verdict that the government of Israel bears no responsibility in the death of Rachel Corrie, saying the verdict continues the pattern of impunity for Israeli military violations against civilians and human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The verdict shields Israeli military personnel from accountability and ignores deep flaws in the Israeli military’s internal investigation of Corrie’s death.
“By upholding the flawed Israeli military investigation, completed within one month of Rachel Corrie’s death in 2003, the verdict seems to have ignored substantial evidence presented to the court, including by eyewitnesses. The full military investigation has never been made public, but US government officials have stated that they do not believe the investigation was ‘thorough, credible and transparent.'”
UNARMED INTERNATIONAL ACTIVISTS & OTHERS SEVERELY INJURED OR KILLED BY THE ISRAELI MILITARY SINCE RACHEL CORRIE’S DEATH
The following is a partial list of nonviolent foreign activists and others who have been seriously injured or killed by Israeli forces since Rachel Corrie’s death on March 16, 2003. It does not include the far greater number of unarmed Palestinian activists injured or killedby Israeli forces during the same period.
April 5, 2003 – A few weeks after Rachel is killed, American citizen and ISM volunteerBrian Avery is shot in the face by Israeli soldiers in the city of Jenin in the West Bank. Lucky to survive, Avery undergoes a series of facial reconstruction surgeries and suffers severe facial scarring. After initially refusing to investigate the incident, the Israeli government subsequently agrees to an out-of-court settlement paying Avery $175,000.
April 11, 2003 – Less than a week after Avery is shot in the face and seriously wounded by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, British ISM member and photographer Tom Hurndall is shot in the head by Israeli soldiers in Gaza while he attempts to help a group of Palestinian children to safety after Israeli soldiers begin shooting in the vicinity. After nearly a year in a coma, Hurndall dies in January 2004. Following pressure from the British government and Hurndall’s family, the Israeli army lays charges of manslaughter against a soldier who confesses to the shooting. The soldier is convicted in 2005 and sentenced to eight years in prison, but is released early for good behavior in 2010.
May 2, 2003 – Respected British cameraman James Miller, who had worked for major international news organizations such as CNN, is shot and killed by Israeli troops in Gaza he while carries a white flag.
March 13, 2009 – Oakland native and nonviolent ISM activist Tristan Anderson is shot in the face with a high-velocity tear-gas canister by Israeli forces while participating in a demonstration against a section of the wall Israel is building on land belonging to the town of Ni’lin in the occupied West Bank. Anderson suffers multiple fractures to his skull, a severe injury to the frontal lobe of his brain, and a collapsed eye socket, causing him to lose sight in his right eye. He spends more than a year in an Israeli hospital recovering before returning to the US, where he continues to suffer the effects of his injury.
May 31, 2010 – Turkish and American citizen Furkan Dogan is shot and killed along with eight other Turkish human rights activists by Israeli commandos who storm the boat they’re traveling on in international waters as part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Dogan is shot multiple times in his leg, foot, back, and twice to the head. A United Nations investigation concludes that he and five of the other victims have been shot “execution-style” at close range, finding that Furkan has been shot in the face after “lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time.”
May 31, 2010 – At a demonstration at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the occupied West Bank to protest the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, 21-year-old American artist and student Emily Henochowicz is hit in the face by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli border police. The force of the impact fractures her jaw and orbital bone and causes the loss of her left eye.
May 1, 2011 – Sixty-year-old American citizen and member of Michigan Peace Team Sandra Quintano suffers two broken wrists and a laceration to her head after being assaulted by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Izbet al-Tabib during a peaceful demonstration against the construction of Israel’s wall, which will cut off villagers’ access to their land.
May 15, 2011 – Twenty-two-year-old Palestinian-American student Munib Masri is shot in the back with live ammunition by Israeli soldiers along the Lebanon border as he participates in a march to mark the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba, the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes during the establishment of Israel. The bullet destroys Masri’s left kidney and spleen and breaks apart in his spine. He remains in a wheelchair.
CALL TO ACTION – MARCH 2013
10 YEARS LATER – REMEMBER RACHEL CORRIE AND ACT!
Saturday, March 16th, the Rachel Corrie Foundation will mark the 10th anniversary of Rachel’s stand in Gaza. It has been an extraordinary, challenging ten-year journey for our organization, for the Corrie family, and for those in our community and beyond who have worked tirelessly for justice and peace in Palestine and Israel, in the world, and at home.
Here in Olympia, we have plans for a Stand for Justice Rally, speakers, music, dance, food, reflection, remembrance, and community! See event listing here.
This dynamic weekend of events will be a kick-off to a year of Peace Works events. We encourage you to participate in the kick-off by completing at least one action from our Call to Action.
Now, we call on you – individuals, organizations, and communities – to join us in these actions and with your own creative, solidarity events or observances!
Mark this 10-year anniversary! Call out Caterpillar, Inc. now on its faulty actions and explanations!
Challenge the appearance of CAT’s Washington Director of Government Affairs at AIPAC!
Tell CAT to own up to its business with Israel and to end its complicity in violations of human rights and international law in Israel/Palestine. See how to help here!
Mark this 10-year anniversary!
Tell President Obama to use his March Mideast trip to see for himself, to demand compliance with U.S. laws and policies, and accountability for how U.S. tax dollars are used by Israel. See how to help here!
Mark this 10-year anniversary! Demonstrate your support for the rights of Palestinians that Rachel, many other internationals, Israeli activists, and Palestinians have stood to defend! Reflect, connect the dots, and strengthen your community’s commitment to justice for Palestinians and peace in the Mideast.
Let us know what you plan so we can share and inspire others! Send your photos for our TUMBLR. See how to help here!
Rachel Corrie wrote,
“The international media and our government are not going to tell us that we are effective, important, justified in our work, courageous, intelligent, valuable. We have to do that for each other, and one way we can do that is by continuing our work, visibly.”
Let’s use this March anniversary as an opportunity to make some noise and be visible in our support for equal rights for Palestinians, accountability and justice, and an end to Israeli occupation!
Let’s remember, act, and celebrate together – how we (like Rachel) have stood this past decade for justice, freedom, equality, and peace in the Middle East and beyond – and let’s think together about how we move ahead to make freedom for Palestine a reality.