“…It has been three-and-a-half years since a 50-ton armorplated bulldozer operated by Israeli soldiers drove over 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie, crushing her into the earth, while she was protesting the razing of Palestinian homes. Still, the family has not given up all hope. Working with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and other lawyers, the family has turned to U.S. and Israeli courts to find justice for their daughter…”
Family of Peace Activist Murdered by Israeli Military Sues Israel, American Firm for Role in Brutal Killing
By Christopher J. Petherick, founding managing editor of AFP
From the American Free Press
Issue #34, August 21, 2006
It has been three-and-a-half years since a 50-ton armorplated bulldozer operated by Israeli soldiers drove over 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie, crushing her into the earth, while she was protesting the razing of Palestinian homes. Still, the family has not given up all hope. Working with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and other lawyers, the family has turned to U.S. and Israeli courts to find justice for their daughter.
On March 16, 2003, Corrie was run over and killed by a D9 bulldozer that had been specially modified with armor plating by the Peoria-Ill.-based company Caterpillar, Inc. Corrie had been working with the International Solidarity Movement, which on that day was attempting to prevent
Israeli soldiers from demolishing farmland and several homes in Hay Salaam in Gaza just across the border from Israel. In particular, Corrie was trying to stop the demolition of the house of Dr. Samir Nasrallah, a Palestinian physician. According to some people, Nasrallah’s house was targeted because it stood on land that was close to the mammoth separation wall being built by the Israelis.
Joseph Smith, a 21-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., was present at the time of Corrie’s death and has documented the tragic event. According to Smith, a little after 2 p.m., on March 16, the terrible incident unfolded:
[A]ctivists noticed that two Israeli Army bulldozers and one tank entered onto Palestinian civilian property near the border and were demolishing farmland and other already damaged structures. The military machinery was severely threatening near-by homes, so the three activists went up onto the roof of one home, and then called for others to come. . . .
Our press office informed the British and American embassies that Israeli Army bulldozers were behaving aggressively, and were endangering the lives of British and American citizens, but they took no action. . . .
One bulldozer, serial number 949623, began to work near the house of a physician who is a friend of ours, and in whose house Rachel and other activists often stayed. . . . Still wearing her fluorescent jacket, [Rachel] sat down at least 15 meters in front of the bulldozer, and began waving her arms and shouting, just as activists had successfully done dozens of times that day. The bulldozer continued driving forward, headed straight for Rachel. When it got so close that it was moving the earth beneath her, she climbed onto the pile of rubble being pushed by the bulldozer. She got so high onto it that she was at eye-level with the cab of the bulldozer. Her head and upper torso were above the bulldozer’s blade, and the bulldozer driver and co-operator could clearly see her.
Despite this, [the Israeli driver] continued forward, which pulled her legs into the pile of rubble, and pulled her down out of view of the driver. If he’d stopped at this point, he may have only broken her legs, but he continued forward, which pulled her underneath the bulldozer. We ran toward him, and waved our arms and shouted, one activist with a megaphone. But the bulldozer driver continued forward, until Rachel was underneath the central section of the bulldozer. At this point, it was more than clear that she was nowhere but underneath the bulldozer, there was simply nowhere else she could have been, as she had not appeared on either side of the bulldozer, and could not have stayed in front of it that long without being crushed. Despite the obviousness of her position, the bulldozer began to reverse, without lifting its blade, and dragged the blade over her body again. He continued to reverse until he was on the border [between Israel and Gaza], about 100 meters away, and left her crushed body in the sand.
On the second anniversary of Rachel’s death, her family filed a lawsuit against the maker of the bulldozer in the U.S. District Court for the Western Federal District of Washington. According to a press release issued by lawyers representing the Corrie family, “Caterpillar, Inc. violated
international and state law by providing specially designed bulldozers to Israeli Defense Forces that it knew would be used to demolish homes and endanger civilians. The Corries’ daughter, Rachel, a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., was there as a volunteer peace
activist protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes when she was brutally killed. Much of the world community, including international human rights organizations and the United Nations, has consistently condemned these demolitions as a clear violation of international humanitarian law.”
Jennie Green, a senior attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights that is bringing the case against Caterpillar, told American Free Press: “There’s pretty strong precedent about suing a corporation for violations of international human rights. A U.S. company has to knowingly be involved in aiding and abetting human rights violations, and in regard to Caterpillar, we have argued both conspiracy and aiding and abetting human rights violations.”
In 2005, the Corrie family also filed a tort claim in Israel against the IDF, the Israeli Defense Ministry and the government for the role they played in the murder of their daughter.
The Corries are optimistic they will get justice in the courts.
“Caterpillar chooses to support these illegal activities with continuing sales and service of its equipment,” Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, told a Seattle newspaper. “It must be held accountable for its role in human rights violations, both past and present.”
© 2006 American Free Press