11 July 2011 — The Guardian – Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
American activist’s father says incomplete footage was given to court hearing into his daughter’s death in Gaza
The family of Rachel Corrie, the US activist killed in Gaza while protesting against house demolitions in 2003, on Monday claimed the Israeli military authorities withheld video evidence during the Corries’ civil lawsuit and misled US officials on crucial details.
Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father, told a press conference in Jerusalem that the footage from a surveillance camera near the scene of his daughter’s death submitted to the court was “incomplete”. Additional video material obtained by the family showed Rachel’s body in a different spot to the place identified by some military commanders, he said.
He also alleged that the Israeli military had misled US officials on the position of Rachel’s body when she was killed.
Rachel, from Olympia, Washington state, was killed while attempting to protect the home of a Palestinian family in the Rafah area of Gaza from being demolished by Israeli troops in March 2003. Her family and other activists who witnessed the incident say she was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer.
Following Rachel’s death the then Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, promised US president George W Bush a “thorough, credible and transparent” investigation.
An internal Israeli military investigation, which was never published nor released to the US government nor the Corries, concluded that the two soldiers who operated the bulldozer had not seen Rachel and that no charges would be brought. The case was closed.
In March last year the Corrie family launched a civil case, accusing the military of either unlawfully or intentionally killing Rachel or of gross negligence. Hearings in the case ended on Sunday and a verdict is due to be delivered next April.
“After more than a year of hearings, we are at this moment in much the same place as we were when they began – up against a wall of Israeli officials determined to protect the state at all costs, including at the expense of truth,” said Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother.
“We came seeking accountability. We demand justice,” said Craig Corrie.
The final witness in the case, Colonel Pinhas Zuaretz, told the court in Haifa that Rafah was a war zone in 2003 and “reasonable people would not be there unless they had aims of attacking our forces”. Members of the International Solidarity Movement, such as Rachel Corrie, were aiding “Palestinian terrorists”, he said.
In arguing that the case should be dismissed, the Israeli government claimed Rachel was responsible for her own death. Both sides have 90 days to submit closing arguments in writing.
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