The family of Rachel Corrie, the pro-Palestinian activist from Washington state killed in Gaza in 2003, accused IDF officials on Monday of deliberately withholding evidence in a civil suit over the death of their daughter.
The accusations come a day after the Corrie family’s 16-month long lawsuit drew to a close at the Haifa District Court. The family says that the army either deliberately killed Corrie or is at least guilty of gross negligence.
The state has maintained that it bears no responsibility for Corrie’s death and that the International Solidarity Movement activist should not have been in a war zone. IDF officials also say that the bulldozer operator who struck Corrie did not see her.
The Haifa District Court is expected to give its ruling on the case, in which senior IDF officials including Col. Pinhas Zuaretz, the former commander of the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade, have testified, in April 2012. Both parties now have 30 days to submit final written arguments.
In a press conference in Jerusalem on Monday, the family alleged that important evidence, including several surveillance tapes from the time Corrie died, was withheld as part of a cover-up of the circumstances of her death.
Corrie was struck and killed by an IDF bulldozer in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, on March 16, 2003, during a protest by the International Solidarity Movement.
Among the evidence the family claims has been withheld from them are surveillance tapes that show color footage of events before and after Corrie’s death. They claim the footage was used in a Channel 2 documentary, but that the IDF has denied that the color footage exists.
According to the Corrie family, IDF officials did submit as evidence a black and white surveillance video with footage immediately before and after Corrie’s death.
“That video is poorer quality, incomplete and black-and-white, not color,” said Corrie’s father, Craig Corrie.
In a statement on Monday evening, a Defense Ministry representative dismissed the family’s allegations as baseless.
“As opposed to what is being claimed, the video in question and all evidence held by the state has been transferred years ago to the plaintiffs. As has been stated previously, the state does not have any additional evidence,” the statement read.
The Corrie family also claims that there are discrepancies between a photograph of the bulldozer that they say killed Corrie taken by International Solidarity Movement activists, and a bulldozer shown on footage presented by the IDF.
They also say that a surveillance camera in the area where Corrie was killed was turned to face away from the scene five minutes before she died.
The Corrie family also repeated accusations that Israeli officials deliberately misled US officials about the exact place Corrie was killed.
The family said they filed the lawsuit in the Haifa District Court because although then-prime minister Ariel Sharon had promised US president George Bush that a “thorough, credible and transparent” investigation into Corrie’s death would be carried out, the IDF’s investigation was insufficient.
In the statement on Monday, the Defense Ministry representative said that the investigation into Corrie’s death had been thorough.
“The circumstances of Rachel Corrie’s death were investigated thoroughly
by the state and the unequivocal conclusion was that the driver of the
bulldozer did not see her and could not see her during the incident. We
note that Rachel was part of a group of demonstrators that entered a
fighting zone in which bulldozers were carrying out an operational
mission,” the statement read.
In response to questions regarding the extent to which the International
Solidarity Movement should be held responsible for encouraging Corrie
to put herself in danger by entering a war zone, the family responded
that Corrie had joined the group of her own free will.
“It’s typical of the Israeli government to characterize nonviolent
groups, including the flotilla, in this way,” Corrie’s mother, Cindy,
said. She added that a family friend is participating in the Gaza
The Corries said that if the court failed to rule in their favor they
would continue to seek accountability for those responsible for her
“We demand justice,” Craig Corrie said.