Last week in the Al Bureij refugee camp, in central Gaza, a USA made Caterpillar bulldozer was the weapon that brutally murdered 19 year old Mahmoud Khafafi. Bulldozers and tanks entered Mahmoud's farmland village at dawn and uprooted olive trees, razed the land and demolished thirteen homes. Young Palestinians threw stones at the tanks, which began shooting in return. The victim ran behind an olive tree and when the bulldozer began to uproot the tree, Mahmoud was shot in the neck, yet attempted to flee until the blade cut his head off and his brains spilled out. [http://www.mezan.org/ human rights organization in Gaza gathered the details]
Cindy Corrie was less graphic as she recounted the chilling episode in an update on Gaza and her family's case against Caterpillar, in a conference call hosted by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine on September 26, 2007.
Mahmoud was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer just three days after the Corrie's federal lawsuit was dismissed by the 9th Circuit Court. The case against Illinois-based Caterpillar, Inc. was initiated on March 15, 2005 and on May 2, 2005, the complaint was amended to include four Palestinian families whose family members were killed when Caterpillar bulldozers demolished their homes on top of them.
On September 18, 2007, a US federal appeals court ruled that Caterpillar Inc. cannot be held legally liable for the use of its bulldozers in an Israeli military operation which caused the death of 23 year old Rachel Corrie and ten members from the four families. Eye witnesses reported that Rachel had stood up for hours in her orange jacket begging the soldiers not to destroy the home of a pharmacist and five children.
"An Israeli investigation stated the bulldozer team was clearing debris on an anti-smuggling mission…The federal appeals court rejected the family’s argument that the equipment used in Israeli military operations is paid for with American government funds and therefore represents an extension of American foreign policy." http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=4591
This extraordinary case was also dismissed without hearing any oral arguments, "In a case of this import it was almost unheard of to not hear oral arguments,” Cindy Corrie commented then related how the "Political Question" emerged as the reason why justice has yet to be served.
In June of 2006, the Justice Department filed a “friend of the court brief” and a three judge panel determined that they did not have jurisdiction because the bulldozers were paid for by funds from the US government. They made the decision based on information not presented in the case, but researched within the US government. For the case to proceed, the court would be forced to interfere in politics specifically reserved for the executive and legislative branches, and thus a dismissal was granted based on the “political question.” The appeals court did not even bother to examine the law, only the political question.
Cindy explained, "How bulldozers are funded and sold is a complex area (go to Department of Defense website - http://www.defenselink.mil/ - and goggle foreign military aid) – all funded by the US government, rather than Israel approaching CAT and there being an exchange between the two…back to the political process-the court was very clear that this is a “political question” and renewed the opening to ask for an investigation from Congress. The State Department, 9th circuit decision affirmed that all of the sales are under the Foreign Military Financing program -sold specifically as weapons to Israel and subject to the laws and restrictions of the Arms Export Control Act – weapons can only be used for internal security or in self-defense, cannot be used against civilians…I…add that the US is on record in the Rachel case as saying that the Israeli government or military did not conduct an appropriately thorough or transparent investigation into her murder…where is the accountability?"
The viewers of Israeli TV news on September 25, 2007 may have wondered the same thing, for it was reported that "Critically ill people are waiting here to go to Israel, to receive vital medical treatment they can't get in Gaza. Treatments in Israel cost money and the payment is being transferred by the Palestinian Ministry of Health to Israeli hospitals. Since Israel declared the Gaza strip last week as "hostile entity", the patients are also being treated accordingly, subject to a torturing process."
Nearby a father held his small son in his arms.
F: He has a fraction in the artery
R: Does he have heart problems?
F: Yes. We've been waiting here at the checkpoint from 7 o'clock in the morning. Unfortunately, from 10 o'clock, 11, 12, one o'clock till now, no one can get through the checkpoint.
Reporter: Some patient, who finally reached the checkpoint hoping to get to the hospital, stayed in the ambulances the whole day as they weren't allowed to pass through, finally they went back to Gaza the same way they came…
The Reporter spoke with Abullah Abu-Shaa'ban, a child and cancer patient:
AA: I should have received my chemotherapy treatment last Wednesday, and it's been delayed for a week now.
R: You were supposed to get your chemotherapy treatment last Wednesday?
R: Why didn't you go there last Wednesday?
AA: I couldn't go as there was a closure like today.
"Everyday I must figure out what is the thing for me to do today to seek justice and accountability."- Cindy Corrie
"My aim is to agitate & disturb people. I'm not selling bread, I'm selling yeast."