Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rachel Corrie's family suing Israel "Defense Ministry"

Call to Action: Corrie Trial in Israel, March 10-24, 2010
As many of you know, a civil lawsuit in the case of our daughter Rachel Corrie is scheduled for trial in the Haifa District Court beginning March 10, 2010. A human rights observer and activist, Rachel, 23, tried nonviolently to offer protection for a Palestinian family whose home was threatened with demolition by the Israeli military. On March 16, 2003, she was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Force (IDF) Caterpillar D9R bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza.
The lawsuit is one piece of our family’s seven-year effort to pursue justice for our daughter and sister. We hope this trial will illustrate the need for accountability for thousands of lives lost, or indelibly injured, by occupation—in a besieged and beleaguered Gaza and throughout Palestine/Israel; bring attention to the assault on nonviolent human rights activists (Palestinian, Israeli, and international); and underscore the fact that so many Palestinian families, harmed as deeply as ours, cannot access Israeli courts.
Download this letter: Call To Action: Corrie Trial in Israel (pdf, 89.03 KB)
In order to deliver these interconnected messages as effectively as possible, we are asking for large-scale participation in the trial itself as well as in the events surrounding it. We hope you will join us for all or some of the events listed below and help us to put the call out to others.
9:00-16:00 – Trial Begins in the Haifa District Court (12 Palyam St. Haifa)
A strong presence of human rights observers, legal observers, and others on the first day of the trial will send the message that this case is being closely monitored and that truth, accountability and justice matter to us all. Other trial dates are: March 14, 15, 17, 21, 22 and 24. Supportive presence at all court sessions is both welcome and needed!
13:00-15:00 – Film Screening at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque (2 Shprinzak St. Tel Aviv)
Screening of the documentary film RACHEL followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Simone Bitton and the Corrie family. RACHEL is a cinematic inquiry into Rachel’s killing. It raises many of the questions that should be asked and addressed during the trial.
20:00-22:00 – Memorial; Location TBA
March 16th marks the seven-year anniversary of Rachel’s killing. We hope to mark this day as a “Day of Conscience” with a large gathering that calls for truth, accountability and justice, in Rachel’s case and beyond. There will also be events in Gaza (at the Rachel Corrie Children and Youth Cultural Center in Rafah), possibly in the West Bank (TBA), and around the world.
If you are not with us in Palestine/Israel, please think about how you and your group/community can be visible/audible on March 16.
We expect this to be a challenging time, but we know the friendship we have felt from so many of you over the years will help us navigate the weeks ahead. Though the course and outcome of the trial are unknown, we welcome the opportunity to raise and highlight many of the critical issues to which Rachel’s case is linked. Thank you for your continuing support.
In solidarity and with much appreciation,
Cindy & Craig Corrie

Rachel Corrie's family suing Israel Defense Ministry:

"Seven years ago, an American woman died from injuries caused by a bulldozer while she was acting as a human shield in Gaza. Rachel Corrie's family is bringing a civil suit against the Israeli Defense Ministry."

National: Corrie family finally puts Israel in dock over daughter’s death
Jonathan Cook, The National
Seven years after Rachel Corrie, a US peace activist, was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, her family is to put the Israeli government in the dock today.
A judge in the northern Israeli city of Haifa is due to be presented with evidence that Corrie, 23, was killed unlawfully as she stood in the path of the bulldozer, trying to prevent it from demolishing Palestinian homes in Rafah.
Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy, who arrived in Israel on Saturday, said they hoped their civil action would shed new light on their daughter’s killing and finally lead to Israel’s being held responsible for her death. They are also seeking damages that could amount to millions of dollars if the court finds in their favour. An internal army investigation was closed shortly after Corrie’s death, exonerating both the bulldozer driver and the commanders who oversaw the operation.
Three Britons and one US citizen, who were standing close to Corrie when she was killed, are expected to challenge Israel’s version of events, arguing that the bulldozer driver knew Corrie was there when he ran her over.
The Israeli government had initially blocked the activists from entering Israel three weeks ago, but at the last minute, after Britain and the US exerted strong pressure, allowed their entry for the hearing.
The four, like Corrie, belonged to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which brings activists to Israel to resist the occupation non-violently alongside Palestinians. Cindy Corrie, from Olympia, Washington, said: “My family and I are still searching for justice. The brutal death of my daughter should never have happened. We believe the Israeli army must be held accountable for her unlawful killing.”
For many observers, Rachel’s Corrie death in March 2003 rapidly came to symbolise the injustices of Israel’s occupation. Diary entries, many of them written while she was living with Palestinian families, were adapted into a play that has been performed around the world.
However, as one Israeli commentator noted in the liberal daily newspaper Haaretz on the first anniversary of her death: “In Israel, her name has been all but forgotten.”
Corrie’s family hopes the court case will rectify that.
Rachel, a film released last year about her life and the events in Rafah, is 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.
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 of Corrie’s death, promised a “thorough, credible and transparent investigation” would be conducted.
But an internal military inquiry clearing the two soldiers operating the bulldozer was widely criticised, including by US officials. Human Rights Watch said it “fell far short of the transparency, impartiality and thoroughness required by international law”.
The army’s report claimed that Corrie had been “hidden from view” behind a mound of earth and that the bulldozer had never come into contact with her. It concluded that “Corrie was struck by dirt and a slab of concrete” as earth slipped on top of her.
The four former ISM activists due to appear in court this week have been told not to comment before giving their testimonies.
But previous witness statements, backed by photographic evidence, have questioned the army’s account. Photographs show Corrie, wearing an orange fluorescent jacket and holding a megaphone, confronting the bulldozer over several hours. They also show the bulldozer’s track marks over Corrie’s body moments after she was crushed. Tom Dale, a British activist who was next to Corrie when she was killed, wrote two days later that she had climbed on top of a mound of earth as activists nearby shouted at the bulldozer driver to stop.
The bulldozer, he wrote, “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. They reversed with the blade pressed down, so it scraped over her body a second time.”
In 2007 a US court denied the Corrie family the right to sue the Caterpillar company, which supplies the Israeli army with the special D-9 bulldozers that killed their daughter and that Israel regularly uses to demolish Palestinian homes.
This week’s hearing is the outcome of a private lawsuit filed by the Corries in March 2005, at the suggestion of the US state department.
Mrs Corrie said: “We hope this trial will also illustrate the need for accountability for thousands of lives lost, or indelibly injured, by the Israeli occupation and bring attention to the assault on non-violent human-rights defenders.”
Mr Corrie added that the family had had to endure “lies and misrepresentations” about the circumstances of the death.
The lawsuit accuses the Israeli government of being responsible either for Corrie’s intentional killing or for the negligent conduct of its soldiers towards unarmed demonstrators.
Israel alleges that it is not liable because the army’s actions were “acts of war” and because Corrie recklessly endangered herself.
Around the time Corrie was killed, three Britons – Iain Hook, Tom Hurndall and James Millar – were fatally shot by Israeli soldiers. Only in the case of Hurndall, another ISM volunteer who was shot in Rafah a month after Corrie, did an investigation lead to a soldier being found guilty and jailed.

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