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Israeli bulldozer makes a martyr of American peace campaigner

by C/O Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:18 AM

There are times when one person's courage can and does make a difference. The Zionist Monsters have been put on display for what they are. Criminal Murderers.

Israeli bulldozer makes a martyr of American peace campaigner

March 29 2003

As always, Rachel Corrie went to the falafel stall where she had lunch and bantered with the Palestinian proprietors. Carrying a loudspeaker and wearing an orange fluorescent vest, the young American peace campaigner was heading for a protest against the Israeli Army's demolition of Palestinian houses in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

Later that afternoon, on March16, Ms Corrie, 23, died under an Israeli bulldozer and became a heroine for Palestine.

There are graffiti in Gaza in her honour - one slogan reads "Rachel was a US citizen with Palestinian blood" - and there is a picture of her on a website that usually reserves the honour for suicide bombers. Yasser Arafat has pledged to name a street after her.

In the United States there have been tearful candlelit vigils in her home town, her letters home have been published on the internet, there have been glowing tributes from her friends and teachers, anger from politicians, a march to condemn Israel's actions and calls for an investigation.

And, of course, there is interest from Hollywood, with filmmakers approaching people who knew Ms Corrie and her family.

Her Western friends are witnessing the making of a martyr. They saw the extraordinary transformation of Ms Corrie, a blonde student from the safe town of Olympia in Washington State, a middle-class girl-next-door who played soccer, liked gardening and loved the poetry of Pablo Neruda, into a symbol of the Palestinian resistance.

It is an unlikely legacy for the youngest daughter of Craig, an insurance executive, and Cindy, a volunteer in schools.

A peace activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Ms Corrie knelt in the path of the Israeli machine to prevent it demolishing a house near the Egyptian border. She had got away with this tactic before, but this time the bulldozer did not stop. She struggled to climb the mountain of earth it was pushing in front of its blade, but as the machine got higher she slipped and was buried. The driver slowly advanced and ran her over twice.

"A regrettable accident," said the Israeli Army; a war crime, says the ISM.

"Her death serves me more than it served her," said one activist at a Hamas funeral last week. "Going in front of the tanks was heroic. Her death will bring more attention than the other 2000 martyrs."

Ms Corrie's courage is in no doubt. Simply being in Rafah is terrifying. There are daily gun battles and Israeli tank incursions and air bombardments. The city is overlooked by Israeli watch towers known as the "towers of death". It is squalid and oppressed.

ISM activists chose to live there to bring attention to the misery of the Palestinians and show solidarity with people perceived as terrorists by most Americans. They are respected and welcomed by the Palestinians, and often act as human shields to protect children from gunfire by walking them to school.

Ms Corrie had become politically conscious only since September11, 2001. She was no Hamas or Islamic Jihad militant, groomed for martyrdom and soothed by the promise of a privileged place in heaven.

In Rafah, Mr Arafat's Fatah political party held a wake for "Retchell Corie", attended by representatives of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, among others. These are the militant Islamic fronts condemned by Ms Corrie's government as terrorists. Their people mingled with secular organisations and droves of ordinary Palestinians who came to pay their respects, including children carrying a sign: "Rachel, we love you as an angel." A little boy pointed to a picture of her and said: "She died defending this holy and blessed land."

The posters of Ms Corrie that began to appear on buildings and lampposts look incongruous beside pictures of the hundreds of Arab men, women and babies killed in the intifada. The homage began as US troops were preparing for the invasion of Iraq, seen by many in Palestine as a crusade against the Arab world.

Tom Dale, 18, a British friend of Ms Corrie and fellow activist, said he saw her die. First, he said, there was fear on her face as she realised that her defiant gesture was going wrong. Joe Smith, 21, who went to college with her, said that, although they acknowledged the danger, they saw death as a "small, unlikely, potential risk".

The activists have compelling photographic evidence to support witness claims that Ms Corrie's killing was deliberate. Mr Dale watched as she knelt down in front of the bulldozer, perhaps 20 metres away, something the activists had done repeatedly.

"Unfortunately, she couldn't keep her grip there and she started to slip down," Mr Dale said. "All the activists there were screaming, running towards the bulldozer, trying to get them to stop. But they just kept on going."

The activists said the driver saw her. "As the mound grew higher she climbed up, getting to eye level with the driver. He saw her in her fluorescent orange jacket. But he kept on going," Mr Smith said.

A traumatised Mr Smith raised his camera and took photographs: Ms Corrie standing in front of the bulldozer; then her bloodied body being pulled from the freshly turned soil; being cradled in the arms of her friends.

"If only they'd had a video camera," one Palestinian journalist lamented. "A film of the Israelis killing an American in cold blood would have ended the intifada."

The weight of the heavy-duty, US-made military earthmover crushed Ms Corrie deep into the soil. Once. Twice. She was still alive when the driver, an Israeli soldier, reversed over her, but she died soon after being taken to Rafah hospital, where she regained consciousness for a moment. Her last words were: "My back is broken."

The hospital says Ms Corrie died from suffocation. Her ribs and left clavicle were broken. Her upper lip was lacerated. The doctors stitched up her face for the journey home to her grieving family.

The Israeli military has opened an investigation into her death.

An army spokesman

said the activists put themselves in harm's way by entering a combat zone. "They were highly irresponsible."

The Israeli line is that the driver did not see Ms Corrie through the bulldozer's thick bulletproof glass. However, the spokesman agreed that the armoured personnel carriers (APCs) that accompany bulldozers are responsible for directing the drivers towards their targets. So why didn't the APC drivers get the bulldozer to stop? The military declined to comment.

The Israeli Army sent its own representative to Ms Corrie's memorial service a week after her death. A tank pulled up beside the mourners and sprayed them with tear gas. A bizarre game of cat-and-mouse began as the peace activists chased the tank around to throw flowers on it, and the Israeli soldiers inside threatened, in return, to run them down.

The game ended when the Israeli bulldozers came out, accompanied by more APCs, firing guns and percussion bombs. The insult was as clear as the danger of the situation and the people went home, the service halted.

There are those who dismiss Western activists as just well-intentioned "political tourists", naive and ineffectual do-gooders. On the night of Rachel Corrie's death, nine Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, among them a four-year-old girl and a man aged 90. A total of 220 people have died in Rafah since the beginning of the intifada.

The Observer

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 24 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
I am sure... Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:19 AM
Me Real Feelings Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:22 AM
Me Real Feelings Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:22 AM
Me Real Feelings Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:22 AM
Me Real Feelings Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:22 AM
Me Real Feelings Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:22 AM
Me Real Feelings Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:22 AM
Me Real Feelings Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:22 AM
Me Real Feelings Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:22 AM
Me Real Feelings Diogenes Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:22 AM
Simple Simple Simon Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:24 AM
Simple Simple Simon Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 10:24 AM
Slum Slum Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 12:41 PM
Slum Slum Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 12:43 PM
above: attack of the anti-semtic dipshits mediawatcher Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 3:00 PM
Sucks to be rachel fresca (the real one) Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 3:12 PM
I suck fresca (the real one) Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 3:17 PM
HMMMMM Ignatius Rielly Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 3:56 PM
Yeah but fresca Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 3:58 PM
Savage? big willy Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 4:00 PM
My appologies fresca Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 4:01 PM
big willy fresca Saturday, Mar. 29, 2003 at 4:02 PM

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