March 10, 2010
family of a US student activist killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in
Gaza has launched a case against the Israeli government.
Rachel Corrie, whose family
is seeking $324,000 in damages from the defence ministry, was one of
several foreign activists killed in confrontations with Israel in
occupied territory in the past decade.
She was nonviolently protesting against Palestinian home demolitions when the army bulldozer crushed her to death.
The proceedings on Wednesday in
the Haifa district court in northern Israel, are likely to stoke
controversy over Israel’s treatment of pro-Palestinian protesters.
The Israeli army says Corrie,
23, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement,
was fatally hit by a concrete slab on March 16, 2003, as a bulldozer
cleared a hideout for Palestinian fighters in the Gaza area.
The Israeli government failed to
conduct a thorough investigation into Corrie’s killing and her family,
advised by the US state department, then filed a private lawsuit five
Corrie’s family, citing witness
accounts, has charged the Israeli driver must have spotted her before
moving the blade in her direction.
|Corrie’s family says the Bulldozer must have spotted her before hitting her [Gallo/Getty]
But Lieutenant-Colonel Avital
Leibovich, an Israeli army spokeswoman, told the Reuters news agency in
an interview that "the crew inside the bulldozer did not see her nor
She said tear gas and stun grenades had been fired to warn protesters to flee.
Cindy Corrie, the victim’s
mother, said in a statement: "As we approach the seven-year anniversary
of Rachel’s killing, my family and I are still searching for justice."
to the family, the aim of the trial is not to get compensation but to
find out the circumstances behind Rachel’s death and hold the Israeli
Four other activists who witnessed the incident in Gaza are to testify in the case.
Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros,
reporting from Haifa, said: "In a very interesting twist, just a few
days ago, the state of Israel filed a motion that was accepted by the
court, which means that they have 30 days after the end of this
two-week period to submit witness testimonies and affadavits.
"Its a very unusual motion to
have been granted. It means that the plaintiffs will be giving their
testimonies without knowing what Israel has up its sleeves.
"The family lawyer said this is just a way to delay the whole procedure."
Israelis have shown little
sympathy for Corrie, whose death occurred at the height of a
Palestinian uprising in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank in which
thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis were killed.
The case is expected to fuel
anger in a nation facing accusations by a UN report that its army and
Palestinian fighters committed war crimes during the 2008-9 Israel-Gaza
Steven Plaut, an Israeli from Haifa, charged in a
column for the Jewish Press newspaper that Corrie’s parents were a
"two-person anti-Israel propaganda SWAT team" who supported Israel’s