Rachel Corrie trial in Israel continues listen11/29/10 Doris Norrito
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Peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death seven years ago by a bulldozer while defending a Palestinian home in Gaza. A long delayed investigation trial is currently underway in Israel.
The parents and sister of Rachel Corrie filed a civil lawsuit against the state of Israel and against Caterpillar for the unlawful killing of Rachel. The twenty-three year old activist was crushed to death by an Israeli driven Caterpillar D9R bulldozer. In October, about 80 people listened to the Corrie family talk about the trial. They were at the Alternative Information Center in Beit Sahour, a suburb of Bethlehem. This is Rachel's father, Craig Corrie;
"What we're saying '...' Caterpillar is not that they sold a bulldozer and subsequently was used to kill our daughter but that they continue to sell bulldozers, time after time, and that they knew that the bulldozers were being used for human rights violations and they continue to sell them even knowing that and then was used to kill our daughter. And my thought was that if you could show this in court we have US laws that would back this sort of thing up. If somebody brings up, 'well, how are our bulldozers being used?' Instead of saying 'well, that's not our business' they would have to say 'yes, it is our business', we need to know that."
Cindy Corrie, Rachel's mother, said that other activists said her daughter had lost her balance; she fell backward and the bulldozer ran over her, backed up and ran over her again. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had promised then President George W. Bush, a thorough and transparent investigation. It did not happen. Questions remained and the family hopes that the trial that began last March will shed light on what actually happened.
"The position of Rachel's body has been somewhat in question. At first the State of Israel said that she was not touched by the bulldozer and that she was not run over by the bulldozer. That's still an element of the discussion in the trial that we're having, but there's photographic evidence and the testimony of all the witnesses that, in fact, it went over and then backed over her again."
In the context of the trial, Rachel’s mother said that the reason her daughter chose to go to Gaza goes beyond courtroom litigation.
"It was really 9/11 in the United States that kind of awakened her to what was happening here and she '...' young American people but all of us, 9/11 was traumatic and she immediately went to 'why is this going on?' 'why did this happen' and in her search for some answers, she was in college at the time at the Evergreen State College in Olympia and her search led her to the Israeli-Palestinian situation as being, at least a factor."
Cindy Corrie said she believes operational investigations are intended to help the military learn from what happens. She thinks they ignore human rights and the good activists do.
"During the weakest report called '...' of responsibility' by '...' that's just come out talking about these very issues, and also Human Rights Watch has an earlier report called 'Promoting Impunity' and it's about the system of operational investigations and military police investigations and how they intersect, I believe, to really keep the institution of the military from having to assume responsibility."
The court system in Israeli differs from that in the US; and for Sarah, Rachel’s sister, it was both disturbing and insightful. During trial sessions, there were few breaks. And they were told that for security reasons, with few exceptions, the soldiers involved would testify behind screens. The trial was also conducted entirely in Hebrew, which added to stress.
" In the right circumstances I would like to be able to sit in a room and look across the table at the soldiers' eyes and be able to hear from him exactly what he experienced up there and what he saw. And coming to the trial in March, that was why I came, was to be able to hear that . '...' Now, with such short notice, we're having to accept the fact that we won't have the opportunity to do that."
Cindy Corrie said they had agreed to an autopsy and found out it was not conducted according to conditions they had agreed to.
"We subsequently learned a long time after, and had confirmed in the court, is that the doctor violated an Israeli court order, there was no US consular present at the autopsy. And he knowingly violated that court order, but also the military police went to the court and promised that they would make sure that the conditions were met. So the investigator of the state has the responsibility. They also did not take their responsibility very seriously."
Cindy Corrie said that this trial is much bigger than Rachel’s case. Every day there are assaults by Israeli militia on demonstrators in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank as well as in Jerusalem.
"To draw attention to the continuing assault on non-violent protestors, Palestinian, international, Israeli's who are being violently assaulted at protests, but also assaulted through the system. I'm speaking right now of Abdullah ah '..', who is in prison for his activities, and there are others. But I also think, as we do this, I think about '..' "
The family says worldwide support sustains them.The next court dates are set for December 22 and 23rd. For updates and more information, go to WMNF.org/news.