Thirteen years ago today, the Israeli military killed Rachel Corrie, an activist protesting house demolitions in Gaza.
Thirteen years ago today, Rachel Corrie (April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003) was killed by the Israeli military while trying to protect a Palestinian family and their home near Rafa, Gaza.
The Israeli military had sent a bulldozer to demolish the family’s home, so Rachel placed herself in the path of the military bulldozer to stop it. The driver paid no heed and tragically crushed her to death.
At the time, Rachel, from Olymia Washington, was in Gaza as a part of a senior-year college assignment. While there, she worked with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to protest the Israeli occupation – specifically, Israel’s campaign of house demolitions in Gaza.
Rachel's parents took the Israeli military to trail and claimed that her death was purposeful, or, at the least negligent. In 2010, her parents spoke to the Alternative Information Center about Israel's misconduct in its investigation of her death and trial of her killer.
The Israeli court accepted the claim by the bulldozer driver that he did not see Corrie standing in front of the bulldozer’s path even though she was, according to witnesses, waving her hands and wearing a florescent jacket.
At the time, the Corrie family’s lawyer, Hussein abu Hussein, said the ruling conveyed that “because Rachel put herself in harm’s way, she is to be blamed for her own death.” “That conclusion,” he continued, “puts at serious risk the lives of human rights defenders and it creates yet another dangerous precedent regarding the protection of civilians in war.”
“Our family is disappointed but not surprised,” the Corrie family said in a statement after the ruling. “Nevertheless, it is clear that this decision, affirming the August 2012 lower court finding, amounts to judicial sanction of immunity for Israeli military forces when they commit injustices and human rights violations.”
Today, ISM shared an email Rachel sent to her parents during her time in Gaza. The email clearly illustrates Rachel’s deep knowledge of, commitment to, and passion for the struggle to end Israeli occupation. In the email, even when she considers the possibility she could be physically harmed, she remains steadfast in her resolve to hold the world accountable for the horrors of Israeli occupation:
Coming here is one of the better things I’ve ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.