Bulldozer driver in Corrie case: 'I didn't feel I hit her'

Driver testifies behind a screen; family's lawyer says testimony of conflicting reports proves driver's guilt.

October 21, 2010 18:22
3 minute read.
Rachel Corrie's Parents

Rachel Corrie's Parents 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)

The Israel Defense Forces soldier who drove a bulldozer that ran over an American protester in the Gaza Strip testified in public for the first time Thursday since Rachel Corrie's death seven years ago.

The soldier said he did not feel that he hit Corrie with the bulldozer until he heard it after the incident.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

The Corrie family's attorney told Army Radio that the bulldozer driver's testimony conflicted with the Military police's affidavit submitted to the court and so this proves his guilt.

Corrie's parents were denied a chance to confront the driver face-to-face in an Israeli courtroom, dashing a central goal of their civil lawsuit against Israel's Defense Ministry. The unidentified former soldier was shielded behind a wood-and-plastic partition, and his testimony about the events leading up to 23-year-old Rachel Corrie's death floated into the hall over a microphone.

Rachel Corrie's parents in Israel for civil case
'General told me to cut short probe of Corrie death'

"I wish I could see the whole human being," Cindy Corrie said before the testimony began, her voice shaking. She and her husband, Craig, traveled from their home in Olympia, Washington, to hear his testimony.

Their daughter was killed in 2003 while trying to block the bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian home in Gaza.

An army investigation concluded she was partially hidden behind a dirt mound and ruled her death an accident. The driver and his commander were not charged or tried and no one was punished.

The activist's parents filed their civil suit in 2005, and petitioned Israeli courts for a chance to look the bulldozer driver in the eye. That request was rejected.

"The Israeli government and the Israeli military are hiding behind the screens," Cindy Corrie said after Thursday's testimony got under way.

The Corries' lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, spent hours trying to poke holes in past testimony the driver gave to the military inquiry that cleared him. At one point, he pulled out a toy bulldozer, a green ball meant to represent the mound of dirt and a toy fish to represent the young American woman. The Corries were seated between translators about 15 feet from the driver.

"I haven't heard one moment of remorse, and to me, that's one of the saddest things," Cindy Corrie said during a break in the proceedings.

The family has criticized the Israeli military investigation and lobbied US officials to pressure Israel to reopen it.

They have also tried unsuccessfully to sue Caterpillar Inc., the US company that manufactured the bulldozer. They claimed the company was liable for aiding and abetting human rights violations.

Rachel, the youngest of the couple's three children, took a break from college at age 23 to pursue student activism overseas as a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group whose activists often position themselves in hotspots between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.

Her fellow activists claim she was killed deliberately and see her as a symbol of what they consider to be Israeli brutality.

Some supporters of Israel argue that thousands of foreign activists like Corrie recklessly choose to risk their lives in a conflict zone where they could be harmed by soldiers who themselves often feel under assault.

The Corries, unwittingly drawn into Mideast affairs by their daughter's death, are seeking a symbolic $1 in damages plus trial costs and travel expenses for themselves and witnesses, which they have estimated at $100,000.

Hearings in the case began earlier this year.

Related Content

Jisr az-Zarq
April 3, 2014
Residents of Jisr az-Zarqa beckon Israel Trail hikers to enjoy their town


Israel Weather
  • 19 - 34
    Beer Sheva
    19 - 31
    Tel Aviv - Yafo
  • 20 - 29
    20 - 29
  • 25 - 35
    18 - 33