Seven years after Rachel Corrie’s death, parents granted hearing in Israeli court
The family of U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie, who died on March 16, 2003 after being crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza, has filed a lawsuit against the state of Israel for her murder. A judge in the northern Israeli city of Haifa was presented with evidence that 23-year-old Corrie was killed unlawfully as she stood in the path of the bulldozer, trying to prevent it from demolishing Palestinian homes in Rafah.
Rachel Corrie’s death has become a powerful symbol of foreign support for the Palestinian people. A 2005 play was based upon the peace activist’s emails and diary and now there is the film “Rachel” that was released in 2009 and was due to be screened in Tel Aviv on March 16, on the seventh anniversary of her death and in the midst of the legal proceedings.
The hearing began on March 10 and is expected to last two weeks. Until the court case in Haifa, the Corrie family had run into a series of administrative and legal brick walls in trying to get their daughter’s death independently investigated and to hold those responsible to account. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister at the time, promised a “thorough, credible and transparent investigation” regarding Rachel’s death. But instead, an internal military inquiry cleared the two soldiers operating the bulldozer. Since the entire incident was captured in pictures and on video, the results of the inquiry were widely criticized, including by U.S. officials. Human Rights Watch said it “fell far short of the transparency, impartiality and thoroughness required by international law”.
Hussein Abu Hussein, the family’s lawyer, said, “The state should take responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie. We believe her killing was done intentionally or at least out of negligence and wrongdoing.”
Rachel’s father, Craig Corrie, added that the family has had to endure “lies and misrepresentations” about the circumstances of their daughter’s death. The family also accused Israel of resorting to procedural delays to drag the case out.
Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, said the family was still waiting for the credible, transparent investigation Israel first promised regarding her daughter’s death. “I just want to say to Rachel that our family is here today trying to just do right by her and I hope that she will be very proud of the effort we are making,” she said. The family met the staff of U.S. vice-president Joe Biden on March 9 to talk about the case.
Although Israel has agreed to let in the four International Solidarity Movement witnesses, it has refused to allow Ahmed Abu Nakira, a doctor in Gaza who treated Corrie, to attend the hearing or to be questioned over a video link.
To read more about this important case and the testimonies given at the hearing, go to desertpeace.wordpress.com