Parents of killed American activist Rachel Corrie last night recounted their efforts to bring to justice those whom they believe murdered their daughter in 2000 to an audience of international activists in Beit Sahour, West Bank. The talk, which was hosted by the Alternative Information Centre, was given by Craig and Cindy Corrie as part of their current trip to Israel for court proceedings related to their daughter’s death in Gaza during the second Intifada. Rachel was killed by an Israeli bulldozer as she tried to protect a Palestinians family’s home from demolition as part of her activity with the International Solidarity Movement.
The couple recounted the current civil legal proceedings, which were initiated by them with the encouragement of the US government in 2010, and are now ongoing in the Israeli courts in Haifa. They spoke of the several obstacles placed in their way by the Israeli courts and administration during the legal proceedings. Such obstacles included the initial refusal of the Israeli authorities to give entry visas to ISM activist witnesses of Rachel’s death, constantly shifting court dates and their delayed access to the defence’s affidavits.
The couple spoke of the support and encouragement they had received from the current US administration who they claimed maintained pressure on Israel to facilitate legal proceedings. This included pressure to allow the couple into the Gaza strip to conduct research as well as to allow prosecution witnesses into Israel for the proceedings. However they told of their disappointment into the US refusal to proceed with their own investigation into the killing which is legislated for in US law and has been used previously in cases involving killings of US citizens.
The military investigation into Rachel’s killing found no military wrong doing and described the incident as unfortunate but placed the blame firmly on the International Solidarity Movement who, the report claimed, put their members at grave risk. The US did not consider the investigation into the incident to be “thorough, credible and transparent”, as was promised to then US President George Bush by Israeli PM Arial Sharon.
Cindy Corrie spoke of how she felt the case went beyond her daughter’s death. “The case is much bigger then Rachel” she said, stating that most Palestinians do not get their day in court. As such the couple believed that “the case was as much for other Palestinians killed unjustly by the Israeli military as it was for Rachel”.
The pair talked of their meeting Vittorio Arrigoni, the Italian ISM activist and blogger, in Gaza last year and their upset at hearing of his kidnapping and death at the hands of Salafist’s last April. Cindy spoke of how she wrote to Arrigoni and “willed him to live” for Palestinians and their sake.
Craig and Cindy Corrie established the Rachel Corrie foundation which focuses on educating others on a peaceful solution to the conflict, grassroots participation towards a just solution and the use of art and poetry in fostering peace and justice. More can be found out about the foundation at http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/