On 10 March 2010, in Haifa, northern Israel, the family of Rachel Corrie, brought a civil suit against the Israeli defense ministry and is seeking accountability for Rachel's death under the wheels of a US Made Caterpillar D9R Bulldozer driven by Israeli troops as Rachel stood up in defense of the home of a pharmacist with five children in Gaza seven years ago and four days before George W. Bush ordered the bombing of Baghdad.
Although USA Journalists were embedded with the Industrial Military Media Complex in Iraq, Rachel, an altruistic young American and perhaps the first of the New Fourth Estate, had been writing her heart out in Rafah. Rachel should be credited as the founder of The New Fourth Estate: citizen reporters who leave their comfort zones to go-seek-report to the best of their abilities and who are motivated by the pursuit of justice and a passion for the truth.
Four eye witnesses, three Britons and an American, who were on the scene when Rachel was run down and over twice will testify in Haifa. All are members of the International Solidarity Movement, "a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles."
The Israeli government initially blocked the activists from entering Israel three weeks ago, but Britain and the US exerted strong pressure, and they were allowed entry for the hearing.
Ariel Sharon, the Israeli
prime minister at the time of Corrie's death, promised a "thorough,
credible and transparent investigation" would be conducted.
An internal military inquiry cleared the two soldiers operating the bulldozer was even criticized by US officials.
Human Rights Watch noted it "fell far short of the transparency, impartiality and thoroughness required by international law".
The army report said Rachel Corrie "was struck as she stood behind a mound of earth that was created by an engineering vehicle operating in the area and she was hidden from the view of the vehicle's operator who continued with his work. Corrie was struck by dirt and a slab of concrete resulting in her death."
Tom Dale, a British activist who was 10m away when Corrie was killed, wrote an account of the incident two days later.
He described how she first knelt in the path of an approaching bulldozer and then stood as it reached her. She climbed on a mound of earth and the crowd nearby shouted at the bulldozer to stop. He said the bulldozer pushed her down and drove over her.
"They pushed Rachel, first beneath the scoop, then beneath the blade, then continued till her body was beneath the cockpit. They waited over her for a few seconds, before reversing. They reversed with the blade pressed down, so it scraped over her body a second time. Every second I believed they would stop but they never did."
Rachel has been eulogized and demonized, celebrated and castigated. Her words and witness speak for themselves and what follows are but a few excerpts from her emails written while in the homes of strangers who became friends and family in Rafah.
In January 2003, upon leaving Olympia, Washington, Rachel wrote:
"We are all born and someday we'll all die too some degree alone. What if our aloneness isn't a tragedy? What if our aloneness is what allows us to speak the truth without being afraid? What if our aloneness is what allows us to adventure to experience the world as a dynamic presence as a changeable, interactive thing?"
On February 7 2003, Rachel wrote: