Corrie family hopeful ahead of court ruling

Rachel Corrie's parents and sister say they hope the court will find the IDF responsible for her 2003 death in Gaza.

Rachel Corrie's parents, Craig and Cindy 370 (photo credit: Yonah Jeremy Bob)
Rachel Corrie's parents, Craig and Cindy 370
(photo credit: Yonah Jeremy Bob)
Craig, Cindy and Sarah Corrie (Simpson) said on Sunday they hope that after nearly 10 years, the Haifa District Court will find the IDF responsible in the death of their daughter Rachel, 23, in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip. A verdict is expected on Tuesday.
She was killed in disputed circumstances on March 16, 2003, while protesting an IDF home demolition.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Jerusalem Post, Cindy described herself as “naive” when the trial started two years ago about what it would look like and its ability to reveal more about what led to her daughter’s death and how the investigation was conducted.
The Corries said that while they remained “optimistic” about the result, they also knew from the start that suing the Defense Ministry would be an “uphill battle.”
While they did not want to prejudge the outcome of the case, Craig appeared to make it clear that they were ready to go to the Supreme Court if the Defense Ministry was not found liable.
Cindy said that while she found various decisions the judge made about the admissibility of evidence troubling, she also felt that she had “bonded” on some level with the judge.
“We sat in court with him for two-and-a-half years,” she said, and he tried to convey messages to them turning in their direction and speaking to them through their lawyer (the Corries do not speak Hebrew). The family highlighted several of the points that have emerged in dispute over the course of the trial.
Sarah, Rachel’s sister, said that bilingual observers who attended the hearings disputed the translations made by the court translator relating to the testimony of some of the key eye witnesses’ who testified in English.
Even the judge recognized some limitations in the court translator’s ability, said Sarah, noting that the judge at certain points looked toward the bilingual observers accompanying the Corries for approval of some of the translations.
Although this has not been a central legal contention by the family’s attorney, it is another example of how almost every detail in the case has been disputed at some point.
The Corries were highly critical of most of the main defense witnesses for the state. They argued that they did not think that a former IDF spokeswoman, whose testimony was accepted, would have been accepted under US legal standards as an expert on the International Solidarity Movement, which Rachel was involved in when she was killed.
A major argument for the state has been to characterize Rachel’s activities and the events of her death as being directly connected to ISM, which the state considers an illegitimate organization.
The state also cited court decisions characterizing the ISM as interfering with IDF operations.
The Corries were taken aback at what they called the “aggressive” tactics of the state in this regard.
They complained that the closure they expected to achieve from meeting the bulldozer driver who they consider to have killed Rachel went unrealized because they never got to see him or make eye contact with him. Rather, they only heard his testimony from behind a screen and through a microphone.
The Defense Ministry issued an order barring the disclosure of the identities of any of the soldiers involved in the operation out of a concern for their safety.
The Corries said that they had asked that just they be able to see the bulldozer driver, ostensibly ensuring his safety from view by the general public, but that this request was denied.
Cindy said that she found it “hurtful” that the driver could not “remember the time of day” when Rachel was killed. She said that she had wanted “to know more about the humanity of this person.”
The driver testified that it is difficult to hear or see while operating a bulldozer and that he had no idea Rachel was in the area.
The state also said that Rachel was in the middle of a war zone where the IDF was regularly being attacked.
Cindy also expressed surprise that “in almost 10 years, there has been no attempt to say I’m sorry.”
Sarah said she was concerned that the video footage used at trial was less comprehensive and covered up discrepancies, as opposed to video footage obtained and aired by at least two journalists.
The state said that it had not released the tape for the entire day of operations because the rest of the tape covered routine operations and not relevant.
In addition, the Corries noted that the US has consistently criticized the Israeli investigation, including as recently as last week when US Ambassador Dan Shapiro called for greater transparency and credibility.
Ultimately, the Corries say they hope their persistence and the publicity of the trial, regardless of the final result, will get the IDF to make its policies more “human rights friendly” so that similar tragedies will be avoided in the future.