Rachel Corrie's Parents 311 AP.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The bulldozer driver who struck and killed US activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza
seven years ago testified on Thursday from behind a partition in Haifa District
Court that the first time he saw her was after she was dragged out of the rubble
in front of his vehicle.
The driver, “YF,” an immigrant from the former
Soviet Union who arrived in Israel in 1995, read in halting Hebrew from an
affidavit he had submitted to the court several months
Rachel Corrie's parents in Israel for civil case
'General told me to cut short probe of Corrie death'
Thursday’s court hearing involved a lawsuit filed by the Corrie
family five years ago, after the army refused to press charges against those
allegedly responsible for the 23-year-old woman’s death.
The family then
sued the State of Israel for gross negligence, charging that its soldiers and
officers had acted recklessly, using an armored Caterpillar D9R bulldozer
without regard to the presence in the area of unarmed and nonviolent
Corrie and seven other members of the pro-Palestinian
International Solidarity Movement were protesting against the demolition by the
IDF of Palestinian homes in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.
who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Jerusalem Post it was hard to
believe that the bulldozer driver was telling the truth, because Corrie and her
friends had been out in the area for three hours demonstrating against the
demolitions. Furthermore, he said, Corrie was the only woman among the
protesters and she was a strikingly tall, blonde woman. Furthermore, she was
only one of three demonstrators wearing bright orange fluorescent jackets and
was holding a megaphone.
Corrie family lawyer Hussein Abu Hussein accused
YF of making many incorrect statements in his testimony. For example, he said
that the mound of earth that the bulldozer had piled up in an earth-clearing assignment
was two meters high. But photos at the scene of the killing demonstrated that
the mound was only half a meter high.
On the other hand, the driver
maintained that Corrie’s body was found in between the mound and the bulldozer,
which had backed away in reverse after the crew heard that a woman had been
killed. The state has maintained that Corrie was behind the mound, and therefore
could not be seen by the driver.
Abu Hussein asked YF why he hadn’t
stopped the bulldozer when he saw the other demonstrators nearby. “These
were our instructions,” he replied. “I’m just a soldier. I carry out
orders. I told the commander there were people around and the order was you
don’t stop working. It was not my decision, it was the
He said he had been warned before the operation to be careful
and that there were civilians in the area. He recalled seeing people holding
signs and speaking from a loudspeaker.
After the hearing, Abu Hussein
told reporters, “The driver contradicted most of his testimony in the past...
The more we hear, the more we have the impression someone is trying to whitewash
In its defense against the lawsuit, Israel has said that
the operation in which Corrie was killed should be considered an “act of war”
that took place in the course of an armed conflict in a closed military zone. It
also said that Corrie was responsible for her own death because she acted in
reckless disregard for her life.
The next hearing in the trial is set for
November 4, when the commander of the bulldozer (each had a two-man team) and
the officer in charge of the entire operation, which involved two bulldozers,
are due to testify.