Hussein Abu Hussein, the lawyer representing the family of US activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an IDF bulldozer during a military operation in Gaza in 2003, has demanded a new criminal investigation into her death.
“The Israeli government is covering this up under the umbrella of combat activity, which absolves soldiers of responsibility,” the lawyer charged during the first day of hearings on the civil tort filed by the family.
Corrie’s family, her father, Craig, her mother, Cynthia, her brother, Christopher and her sister, Sarah Simpson, are suing the State of Israel for $324,424 in “special” damages and an unspecified sum in “general” damages in what they charge was her wrongful death, caused by the use of “deliberate and utterly unreasonable force by the bulldozer driver.” In its response to the lawsuit, the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office wrote that “the IDF thoroughly investigated the incident and conducted a military police investigation during which they took testimony from many people including the driver and the commander of the bulldozer. Their unequivocal conclusion was that the two did not see, and could not see, the dead woman because of the limited sight range of the bulldozer. They were given a lie detector test and found to have been telling the truth.” The family has refused to accept the army’s findings.
“On March 16, 2003, Rachel was ripped away from our family and it left an enormous void in our life that can never be replaced and I know that many people in this part of the world have similar voids in their lives,” her mother, Cindy Corrie, told reporters at the Haifa district courthouse.
Corrie, who was 24 at the time of her death, was a volunteer in the
pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and was
stationed with other volunteers in Rafiah, at the southern tip of the
The second intifada was raging at that time. Israel had declared the
confrontation with the Palestinian terrorist organizations a war-like
situation. IDF troops who were patrolling the Philadelphi road, a
narrow strip of Israeli-controlled land separating the Sinai Peninsula,
under Egyptian sovereignty, from the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip
to search for tunnels and prevent cross-border arms smuggling.
These patrols were frequently attacked by Palestinians opening fire
from houses inside Rafiah and Israel conducted a policy of demolishing
homes close to the Philadelphi road in order to protect its troops. In
one of these operations, Corrie was sent out with other ISM volunteers
to try to block the bulldozers.