Rachel Corrie's parents in Israel for civil case

Parents are suing Defense Min. over 2003 death of daughter; was crushed by IDF bulldozer during Gaza house demolition.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
October 12, 2010 12:01
2 minute read.
Rachel Corrie's Parents

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

JERUSALEM — The parents of Rachel Corrie have spent years battling in Israeli courts for two modest goals they hope might give them some closure: an apology from the military and a chance to look in the eye in court, the driver of the bulldozer that ran over their daughter.

They suffered a setback in their quest last week when a judge declined one of their key requests. The driver and his commander are expected to testify in the family's civil trial against the government in the coming weeks and the judge ordered that they will be screened from view during testimony. Their identities have not been made public.

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The family has petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the decision — they say seeing the bulldozer driver and his commander face-to-face would help them feel more compassion.

"We are desperately trying to keep our minds open about this," said father Craig Corrie, 63.

Rachel Corrie was killed on March 16, 2003, while standing in the way of a military bulldozer that sought to demolish a Palestinian home in Gaza. An IDF 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 for her death.

In 2005, the Corries filed a civil suit against the Defense Ministry. They are seeking a symbolic one dollar in damages plus trial costs and travel expenses for themselves and witnesses, which they say are close to $100,000. Hearings in the case began this year.

Rachel's mother Cindy Corrie told The Associated Press in an interview Sunday that their court battle seeks only a modicum of justice that they hope will bring them closure and perhaps the strength to forgive those involved.

"I want to understand these people. I want to understand how this could have happened," said Corrie, 62. "After seven-and-a-half years of trying to find accountability ... we've sort of worked toward this moment."

Rachel, the youngest of their three children, took a break from college at age 23 to become and activist overseas as a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group whose activists often position themselves between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.

On Sunday, Israel's Defense Ministry said in a statement responding to AP questions that it regretted "the incident in which Rachel Corrie was mistakenly hurt."

The family argues that the military investigation into their daughter's death was done poorly. Translations of trial testimonies provided by the Corries suggest that a commander told the military investigator not to question bulldozer operators and that the driver didn't have clear instructions on dealing with civilians.

The Corries have lobbied US officials to pressure Israel to reopen the investigation into Rachel's death. And if the Supreme Court doesn't rule in their favor, the Corries say the will resume lobbying US officials.

They have also tried unsuccessfully to sue Caterpillar Inc., the US company that manufactured the bulldozer.


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