Israel has a huge chance to surprise us all tomorrow. It has a chance to uphold justice, and help, even in the tiniest of ways, heal the hearts of two loving parents. After withstanding years of waiting, a struggle for justice and closure culminates in Haifa tomorrow, when a verdict is released on the death of Rachel Corrie in March of 2003. Rachel Corrie’s name has become revered in the Arab World, and is well known in the field of activism. I recall hearing about her story in Amman, and to this day, shudder when looking at the pictures taken of her moments before her death. Corrie’s parents are suing the IDF for $1 in damages, but, more importantly, are charging those responsible for the death of their daughter with criminal negligence.
According to her family, Corrie was killed attempting to prevent the demolition of a house owned by a Palestinian doctor and his family in Rafah. As a bulldozer approached the doctor’s house, Corrie bravely stood in front of it, and used a megaphone in an attempt to stop the operator from demolishing the house. The bulldozer did not stop moving, trapping Rachel under its blade, and then backing up over her once more as fellow activists threw small stones and yelled frantically (also using megaphones) to get the attention of the operator to stop. Unfortunately, Corrie had suffered fatal injuries and attempts to save her life failed.
The IDF maintains their point of view that the operator of the bulldozer did not see Corrie, and this has been the central point in Rachel’s parents’ fight for justice. Several witnesses to the event describe Rachel standing atop of a pile of earth, and have consistently reiterated that there is no way that the driver did not see or hear her. Looking at one of the photos taken of Rachel moments before her death, I would agree with that fact. It seems to me that Rachel is definitely in the driver’s line of vision.
Corrie was an activist in every sense of the word. Her passion for the Palestinian cause was social above anything else, as she focused her letters, writings, and interviews on the impact the occupation was having on the livelihood of the Palestinians, especially children. In one interview, Corrie described what she was seeing as the “systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive.” That was exactly what she was trying to prevent. Because she was American, her story became a rare Western lens into the plight of the Palestinian people, and the human rights violations they continue to face today.
Forced evictions and house demolitions are illegal under international law. Corrie was well aware of this fact. This long overdue verdict is vital, and a victory will be symbolic for all those continuing to face such hardships. The Corries hope that justice for Rachel will help countless Palestinian families who have lost their homes seek justice as well. I regret to say though that history has taught me not to get my hopes up in cases like this one…
Update: Surprise surprise Israel rules that Rachel was responsible for her own death, leading to a global uproar. Justice has not been served, and Israeli courts continue to disregard the value of humanity.