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Family of Murdered Peace Activist Seeks Justice

August 30, 2012 by  


By Laura Fawaz, Contributing Reporter

RACHEL-CORRIE-003Haifa, Palestine / Israel–Often, when it comes to the Middle East situation with Israel, the Western media immediately rushes to call Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran the terrorist. 

But now, Israel, whose army is backed by American money and machinery, is the one being called out in court for the terrorist killing of peace activist Rachel Corrie.  The western media does not even cover a glimpse of the situation.  The Israeli army has used indiscriminate killing and terror as a means of breaking Palestinian civilians.

The verdict in the civil lawsuit against the State of Israel for the killing of peace activist Rachel Corrie over nine years ago, was announced today, Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. in Haifa, Palestine / Israel.  An Israeli judge claimed that Corrie’s death was a terrible accident and upheld the results of the military’s own investigation, which was regarded as a “whitewash.”  Corrie’s parents may not have received the fair justice for their daughter, but in their struggle, they forced a court case that established that her death was not random, but was one of a pattern of killings as the Israeli army pursued a daily routine of attacks intended to terrorize the Palestinian population of southern Gaza into submission.

Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American from Washington, was crushed to death on March 16th, 2003, by an Israeli military Caterpillar bulldozer.  She was nonviolently protesting the demolition of Palestinian civilian homes in Rafah, Gaza.  The lawsuit, filed in 2005 on behalf of the Corrie family by attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, charges the State of Israel with responsibility for Rachel’s killing, and for the failure to conduct a full and credible investigation in the case.

“The lawsuit is just a small step in our family’s nearly decade-long search for truth and justice,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father.  “The mounting evidence presented before the court underscores a broken system of accountability – tolerated by the United States in spite of its conclusions that Israel’s military investigation was not thorough or credible.’”

There have been 23 witnesses testifying since the case began on March 10th, 2010, in a total of 15 court hearings.  The trial has exposed chain-of-command failures in relation to civilian killings, and indiscriminate destruction of civilian property at the hands of the Israeli military in southern Gaza.

“This trial is an attempt to hold accountable not only those who failed to protect Rachel’s life but also the flawed system of military investigations which is neither impartial nor thorough,” said Hussein Abu Hussein, the family’s attorney.  “Under international law, Israel is obligated to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians from the dangers of military operations.  The Israeli military flagrantly violated this principle in the killing of Rachel Corrie and it must be held accountable.”

The case plainly lay out that according to the Israeli military, the definition of “enemies” is so wide that children just walking home from school were legitimate targets if they crossed a red line that was truly invisible to everyone but the soldiers looking at it on their maps.  The military gave itself a vague layer of protection by declaring southern Gaza as a war zone, even though ordinary Palestinians heavily populate it.  This sets rules of engagement so broad that the Israeli Army could justify anyone being a target.  But, parts of those included houses where Palestinians built walls within walls of their homes to protect themselves from Israeli bullets.  This brought endless impunity for Israeli soldiers, no matter whom they killed; and this was reinforced by today’s verdict in Corrie’s death.

Corrie wasn’t the only foreign victim.  In the months following her death, Israeli soldiers shot dead James Miller, a British television documentary journalist, and Tom Hurndall, a British photographer and pro-Palestinian activist.  British investigations returned verdicts of unlawful killings in all three deaths, but Israel rejected calls for the soldiers who killed Miller and Hook to be held accountable.

Three years later, it still continued when an Israeli army officer emptied the magazine of his rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl, Iman al-Hams.  The officer then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old.  A military court cleared him.  Iman was shot and wounded after crossing the invisible red line around an Israeli military base in Rafah. The officer then even left the base in order to “confirm the kill” by pumping the wounded girl full of bullets.  An Israeli military investigation concluded he had acted properly.

Tuesday’s court verdict in Haifa will have done nothing to end that climate of impunity.  Nor anything that would have us believe that Israel’s repeated assertion that it has the “most moral army in the world” is any more true than its explanation of so many Palestinian deaths.

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