Rachel Corrie's parents endure brush with Gaza kidnappers

Two Palestinians decided not to abduct them after learning Corrie's parents' identity.

rachel corrie 88 (photo credit: )
rachel corrie 88
(photo credit: )
Two Palestinians opted not to kidnap the US couple Craig and Cindy Corrie from the Rafah refugee camp Wednesday, upon learning that their daughter Rachel was killed in 2003 as she tried to stop an IDF bulldozer from razing the home of pharmacist Samir Nasrallah. Nasrallah, who was hosting the Corries in his home, told The Jerusalem Post by telephone that the two men, one of whom had a gun, knocked on his door Wednesday morning and asked if he had internationals in his home. "I said, 'yes,' but that this is the father and mother of Rachel Corrie," he said. At no time during the exchange was he frightened, nor was he even sure that the gun was loaded, Nasrallah said. The men came in the house and he sent his wife to wake up the Corries. The couple had arrived the day before for an overnight visit, and were still sleeping. Craig Corrie told the Post he was still wearing his pajamas when he walked into the living room and saw the men talking with Nasrallah. The gun "had a big clip" and the man had it "pointed at the ground between his legs while they were talking," said Craig. They were introduced and shook hands. "They were saying that they felt we would be safer at their house and we said we felt safe where we are," said Craig. Since he doesn't know Arabic, portions of the conversation were translated for him. "We declined," he said adding that, "there was never a threat made against us and the gun was never pointed at anyone." He said that when he entered the room and saw the man with the gun, he feared it might be a kidnapping attempt, but that the situation was never described to him that way by his host. Corrie added that the media accounts made it sound much more dramatic than it felt during the incident. A US activist, Serena Becker, 25, described a similar incident to the Post. She said some men knocked on the door of the apartment where she was staying on Tuesday night, wanting her and the few activists with her to come with them. They left only after the activists appealed for help to the Nasrallah family and to Palestinian security forces. Becker, who had been in Rafah working with the Olympia-Rafah sister city project, said she decided it was best for her safety and for the Palestinians she was helping to leave Rafah for Israel on Wednesday. Corrie said he and his wife had been warned that it could be dangerous, but had proceeded with their trip anyway. It is the couple's second visit to the region since their daughter's death and their second dramatic incident in Rafah. During their first visit to the Nasrallahs' in September 2003, an IDF bulldozer pulled up to the home looking to destroy it. That house, which Rachel tried to protect, was later destroyed. It is being rebuilt with funds raised by the grassroots US group, The Rebuilding Alliance. The Corries arrived in the region on December 27 to attend an international conference on non-violence in Bethlehem and plan to leave January 10. They were in Gaza at the invitation of the Gaza Community Mental Health program. In Rafah, they also met with Palestinians to talk about intercultural programs between Rafah and their home town of Olympia, Washington. The discussions were held in a building in Rafah dedicated in Rachel's name to helping youth. Craig said it was also important for him and his wife to visit Nasrallah, whose family they have become close to. They left Rafah following the morning's visit. "The people said, 'We want you here and we love you, but come back when it's safer." An IDF investigation into their daughter's death ruled that it was an accident, but members of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement for whom Rachel, 23, was volunteering at the time of her death claimed that the IDF bulldozer driver saw Corrie and drove over her as she and a small group of ISM activists tried to stop him from razing a home. The IDF, however, said that Corrie died from injuries sustained by debris that fell on top of her as a result of the bulldozer's movements, rather than from direct contact with the bulldozer itself. In a media release, the IDF stated there was "no way to find fault with the soldiers involved." The Corries dispute this ruling.