'General told me to cut short probe of Corrie death'

Former Military Police investigator testifies at hearings on lawsuit filed by deceased International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie's family.

By DAN IZENBERG
September 6, 2010 02:02
3 minute read.

A former Military Police investigator told the Haifa District Court on Sunday that the head of Southern Command, whose name he did not know at the time, ordered him to cut short an investigation hearing into the death of International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie in Rafah seven years ago.

Maj.-Gen. Doron Almog led the IDF’s Southern Command at the time.

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The investigator, who was identified only as “Oded,” was testifying on the first day of the second round of hearings on a lawsuit filed by the Corrie family, charging that the government deliberately killed Corrie or was guilty of negligence in her death. Corrie was struck and killed by an army bulldozer on March 17, 2003.

The government maintains that Corrie should not have been in a war zone and that the bulldozer operator did not see her and did not know he had struck her.

According to a representative of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice who attended Sunday’s hearing, the Corrie family’s lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, asked Oded why he had not complained about the alleged interference by Almog.

Oded replied that at the time he was a junior and inexperienced soldier who had undergone a three-month training course and had only investigated one previous case of alleged wrongful death.

The foundation representative claimed that Almog had frequently “meddled” in the investigation.

But according to the state, Almog ordered the investigation to be halted on one particular day, and only because of a dispute as to which body should be investigating the incident.

Oded himself said the order came toward the end of the questioning and did not cause harm. The Military Police later resumed and completed its investigation.

According to the Corrie Foundation representative, Oded also testified that the film from the surveillance cameras that operated in the area where Corrie was killed did not reach the investigators until a week later, and that he did not know what had happened to it in the interim.

The state maintains that the film makes it clear that the cameras were not directed at the site of the killing at the moment it happened, and that only after word came that someone might have been hit were the cameras switched around in a search for the whereabouts of the bulldozer.

There were also transcripts of the radio transmissions between the crew of the bulldozer and other military personnel in the area, including the two-man crew of the other bulldozer operating in the area and the operational headquarters of the unit they belonged to.

According to the Corrie Foundation representative, Oded said there was a short communication in Arabic. The Corrie family believes it was a conversation between the soldiers of the two bulldozers that had not been transcribed and translated and that, according to the representative, the investigating team had believed was not relevant.

The Corrie Foundation spokeswoman said the translation of the conversation revealed that one of the members of the second bulldozer crew asked the first: “Did you kill him?” The first crew allegedly replied, “May God have mercy on his soul.”

This was supposedly proof that the bulldozer operator knew immediately he had killed Corrie.

However, the state argues that the Arabic conversation was not part of the IDF transmission.

The words had apparently been spoken by one or two Beduin and were garbled. The state also said the operator of the bulldozer that struck Corrie did not speak Arabic.


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