PALESTINE: The murder of Rachel Corrie

Issue 

RAFAH, Gaza
Strip — On March 16, Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old US volunteer with the
International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was murdered by the Israeli occupation
army.

Wearing a fluorescent orange jacket, Corrie was standing in the path
of a bulldozer that was to demolish a Palestinian home. The following eyewitness
account from an ISM activist appeared on Israel Indymedia (<http://www.indymedia.org.il/>).
It proves that Corrie's death was not an accident.

“I was 10 metres away when it happened... We'd been monitoring and occasionally
obstructing the two bulldozers ... when one turned towards a house we knew
to be threatened with demolition. Rachel knelt down in its way. She was
10-20 metres in front of the bulldozer, clearly visible, the only object
for many metres, directly in [the Israeli army driver's] view. The [bulldozer
drivers] were in radio contact with a tank that had a profile view of the
situation. There is no way Rachel could not have been seen... They knew
where she was, there is no doubt.

“The bulldozer drove toward Rachel slowly, gathering earth in its scoop
as it went. She knelt there, she did not move. The bulldozer reached her
and she began to stand up, climbing onto the mound of earth. She appeared
to be looking into the cockpit. The bulldozer continued to push Rachel,
so she slipped down the mound of earth, turning as she went. Her faced
showed she was panicking and it was clear she was in danger of being overwhelmed.

“All the activists were screaming at the bulldozer to stop and gesturing
to the crew about Rachel's presence. We were in clear view as Rachel had
been, they continued. They pushed Rachel, first beneath the scoop, then
beneath the blade, then continued till her body was beneath the cockpit.
They waited over her for a few seconds, before reversing ... with the blade
pressed down, so it scraped over her body a second time. Every second I
believed they would stop, but they never did.

“I ran for an ambulance, she was gasping and her face was covered in
blood from a gash cutting her face from lip to cheek. She was showing signs
of brain haemorrhaging. She died in the ambulance a few minutes later of
massive internal injuries.

“Rachel was a brilliant, bright and amazing person, immensely brave
and committed. She is gone and I cannot believe it.”

Corrie's brutal murder has highlighted the Israeli army's practice of
bulldozing Palestinian homes. As Jeff Halper from the Israeli Committee
Against House Demolitions noted, Corrie was not the first person killed
as a result of Israel's cruel policy. Less than two weeks before, Nuha
Makadma Sweidan and her unborn child were also killed in Gaza when the
Israeli army “accidentally” demolished their home when they blew up another
home nearby. A few weeks before that, an elderly woman and a disabled man
died under the rubble of their homes when the soldiers “failed to notice”
them.

These were not mere accidents. Israel routinely demolishes Palestinian
houses on top of all the families' possessions, and in their haste do not
bother to follow prosaic rules of “safety”.

According to UN figures, less than 600 of the 10,000 houses demolished
since the occupation began in 1967 involved “terrorism” suspects. The other
94% were simply houses of ordinary people who were in Israel's way. That
was the case of the home of Dr Samir Nasrallah, which Corrie died protecting.
His house in Rafah was demolished because, like dozens of others in that
area, it was within a “security strip” that Israel wants to create along
the border with Egypt.

The ISM — which is made up of both Palestinian and international citizens
— is in the Palestinian occupied territories attempting to protect Palestinian
human rights and lives because formal international bodies have refused
to do so. Dozens of Palestinian civilians are being systematically murdered
weekly, and on March 16, a beautiful, conscientious defender of human rights
was killed trying to protect the home of a Palestinian family.

This murder, along with Israel's continued destruction of Palestinian
homes, must be strongly condemned by the US government and the United Nations
and they must insist that Israel abide by international law and UN resolutions.
The ISM also calls upon the US government to conduct its own independent
investigation into this incident and to take responsibility for the manner
in which the Israeli government is using the US$2.2 billion in military
aid that it grants Israel each year.

This money and US-made weaponry are daily being used by the Israeli
military to harm innocent civilians. The bulldozer that killed Rachel Corrie
was a US-made Caterpillar armoured D-9 bulldozer.

The murder of Rachel Corrie was clearly not an accident. Israel must
be held accountable for this criminal act and all the criminal acts it
is carrying out on a daily basis in the occupied Palestinian territories.

[From the International Solidarity Movement. Visit <http://www.palsolidarity.org>
to view Rachel Corrie's writings.]

From Green Left Weekly, March 26, 2003.

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