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For Immediate Release: March 16th, 2010

World Remembers Rachel Corrie While Her Family Fights for Accountability in Israel

Washington, D.C.--Seven years ago today, U.S. student and peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli soldier driving a Caterpillar D-9R bulldozer while she attempted to nonviolently prevent the demolition of a Palestinian pharmacist’s home in Rafah, Gaza. Now, after a dismissal in U.S. district court and an Israeli investigation that the U.S. State Department characterized as not “thorough, credible, [or] transparent,” Rachel’s family is seeking justice through the Israeli court system as plaintiffs in a civil trail over Rachel’s unlawful killing in the Gaza Strip.

“The killing of Rachel Corrie is yet another example of Israel’s unlawful attacks on unarmed civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” said attorney Hussein Abu Hussein who is representing Rachel Corrie’s family. “The Israeli soldiers and commanders acted in violation of both Israeli and international law prohibiting the targeting of civilians and the disproportionate use of force against non-violent protest with blatant disregard [for] human lives,” added Abu Hussein.

Today, on the anniversary of Rachel’s death, while the Haifa court hearing Corrie v. State of Israel is in recess, the Corrie family and their supporters around the world are taking action to memorialize Rachel and continue her struggle for justice and freedom for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Over one dozen Rachel Corrie memorial events are taking place across the United States and at least seven national peace organizations are participating in a call-in day to the White House demanding that the U.S. break Israel’s inhumane siege of the Gaza Strip. These organizations, including the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Jewish Voice for Peace, the American Friends Service Committee, and the Methodist Federation for Social Action, are participating in this call-in day at the request of the Corrie family. 

After visiting the Gaza Strip several times in the wake of “Operation Cast Lead,” Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 attack on the Gaza Strip, Rep. Brian Baird, whose constituents include the Corrie family, has publicly requested that the United States break the siege of Gaza. Participants in this call-in day are asking the Obama Administration to support his proposal.

The Corrie family made clear that their struggle for justice and accountability is much larger than Rachel’s individual case, and that they stand in opposition to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip as well as recent crackdowns on Palestinian, Israeli, and international nonviolent activists in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Background:  This is the Corrie family’s second court case over Rachel’s death. In 2005 the Corries sued Caterpillar, Inc. in U.S. district court for aiding and abetting the state of Israel in Rachel’s death and various other war crimes. The basis for this suit was that Caterpillar supplies bulldozers, such as the one that killed Rachel, and other equipment built to the specifications of the Israeli military, knowing that this equipment will likely be used in violations of intentional law that could result in civilian death. This first case was dismissed based on the “political question doctrine,” meaning that the court thought that Caterpillar’s military sales to Israel were a foreign policy issue and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the court. 

The Corries filed the current civil case in Israel in 2005, at the urging of the U.S. State Department.

For more information about the 2005 case, Corrie et al. v. Caterpillar, please see the archive at the Center for Constitutional Rights: http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/corrie-et-al.-v.-caterpillar

For updates on the current case, Corrie v. State of Israel, please see the Rachel Corrie Foundation website: http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/trial

Quote from a 2004 letter from Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, to the family of Rachel Corrie.