American Woman Killed by Israeli Bulldozer
The murder of Rachel Corrie is tragic. She was an American activist committed to peace and justice throughout the world. Her family stated that, “Rachel was filled with love and a sense of duty to her fellow man, wherever they lived. And, she gave her life trying to protect those that are unable to protect themselves.”
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The tragic event was photographed >>
Statement from The International Solidarity Movement
In Rafah, Gaza Strip today Rachel Corrie, a 23-year old American woman from Olympia, Washington, who was a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, was killed by the Israeli Army. Rachel was standing 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 up – effectively running over her again. The seven other ISM activists taking part in the action rushed to dig out her body. An ambulance rushed her to Al-Najar Hospital where she died.
The Israeli Army consistently bulldozes Palestinian homes, particularly in Rafah, where over 100 homes have been demolished in the last two years. The International Solidarity Movement – both Palestinian and international citizens – calls upon the international community to break the silence around Israel’s grotesque human rights abuses. International civilians are in the Occupied Palestinian Territories attempting to protect Palestinian human rights and lives precisely because formal international bodies have refused to take action to do so. Dozens of Palestinian civilians are being systematically murdered weekly, and today, a beautiful, conscientious American 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 United States and the United Nations and they must insist that Israel abide by international law and UN Resolutions. The International Solidarity Movement also calls upon the United States 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 $2.2 billion in military aid that we grant to Israel per year. This money and US-made weaponry is daily being used by the Israeli military to harm innocent civilians. The bulldozer that killed Rachel Corrie was an American-made Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer.
The murder of Rachel Corrie was clearly NOT an accident. Eyewitnesses report that the bulldozer driver was able to see Rachel, and that they were shouting to the driver to stop. The Israeli government and army continue to blame the victims of violence carried out by the Israeli Army for their own suffering. Israel must be accountable for this criminal act and all criminal acts it is carrying out on a daily basis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The International Solidarity Movement greatly mourns the loss of Rachel Corrie and extends its heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. We pledge to continue actively working for the ideals of freedom and justice that Rachel died for.
For photos of the incident, please visit http://www.palsolidarity.org.
Excerpts from an e-mail from Rachel Corrie to her family on February 7, 2003
I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what’s going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States–something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me, “Ali”–or point at the posters of him on the walls. The children also love to get me to practice my limited Arabic by asking me “Kaif Sharon?” “Kaif Bush?” and t
Nevertheless, I think about the fact that no 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 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, of course, the fact that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean. Ostensibly it is still quite difficult for me to be held for months or years on end without a trial (this because I am a white US citizen, as opposed t
They know that children in the United States don’t usually have their parents shot and they know they sometimes get to see the ocean. But once you have seen the ocean and lived in a silent place, where water is taken for granted and not stolen in the night by bulldozers, and once you have spent an evening when you haven‘t wondered if the walls of your home might suddenly fall inward waking you from your sleep, and once you‘ve met people who have never lost anyone– once you have experienced the reality of a world that isn’t surrounded by murderous towers, tanks, armed “settlements” and now a giant metal wall, I wonder if you can forgive the world for all the years of your childhood spent existing–just existing–in resistance to the constant stranglehold of the world‘s fourth largest military–backed by the world‘s only superpower–in it‘s attempt to erase you from your home. That
As an afterthought to all this rambling, I am in Rafah, a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60 percent of whom are refugees–many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine–now Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt. Currently, the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater.
Today as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, “Go! Go!” because a tank was coming. Followed by waving and “what’s your name?”. There is something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids: Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what’s going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously, occasionally shouting– and also occasionally waving–many forced to be here, many just aggressive, shooting into the houses as we wander away.
In addition to the constant presence of tanks along the border and in the western region between Rafah and settlements along the coast, there are more IDF towers here than I can count–along the horizon,at the end of streets. Some just army green metal. Others these strange spiral staircases draped in some kind of netting to make the activity within anonymous. Some hidden,just beneath the horizon of buildings. A new one went up the other day in the time it took us to do laundry and to cross town twice to hang banners. Despite the fact that some of the areas nearest the border are the original Rafah with families who have lived on this land for at least a century, only the 1948 camps in the center of the city are Palestinian controlled areas under Oslo. But as far as I can tell, there are few if any places that are not within the sights of some tower or another. Certainly ther
I’ve been having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but I hear an escalation of war on Iraq is inevitable. There is a great deal of concern here about the “reoccupation of Gaza.” Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents, but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here, instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren’t already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope they will start.
I also hope you’ll come here. We’ve been wavering between five and six internationals. The neighborhoods that have asked us for some form of presence are Yibna, Tel El Sultan, Hi Salam, Brazil, Block J, Zorob, and Block O. There is also need for constant night-time presence at a well on the outskirts of Rafah since the Israeli army destroyed the two largest wells. According to the municipal water office the wells destroyed last week provided half of Rafah‘s water supply. Many of the communities have requested internationals to be present at night to attempt to shield houses from further demolition. After about ten p.m. it is very difficult to move at night because the Israeli army treats anyone in the streets as resistance and shoots at them. So clearly we are too few.
I continue to believe that my home, Olympia, could gain a lot and offer a lot by deciding to make a commitment to Rafah in the form of a sister-community relationship. Some teachers and children’s groups have expressed interest in e-mail exchanges, but this is only the tip of the iceberg of solidarity work that might be done. Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices heard directly in the US, rather than through the filter of well-meaning internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against all odds.
Thanks for the news I’ve been getting from friends in the US. I just read a report back from a friend who organized a peace group in Shelton, Washington, and was able to be part of a delegation to the large January 18th protest in Washington DC. People here watch the media, and they told me again today that there have been large protests in the United States and “problems for the government” in the UK. So thanks for allowing me to not feel like a complete polyanna when I tentatively tell people here that many people in the United States do not support the policies of our government, and that we are learning from global examples how to resist.