(Haifa, Israel – March 15, 2010)– In the third day of testimony in the civil lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza, the Haifa District Court heard testimony from British citizen Alice Coy, a nurse, and an eyewitness to the killing.
The State spent most of the day trying to establish that contrary to all eyewitness accounts and human rights reports, the Israeli Military had no intention of demolishing homes in the area on the day Rachel was killed.
Ms. Coy testified that:
- She first came to Israel in order to visit Israeli relatives.
- When the Israeli Military interviewed her about Rachel’s killing on April 1, 2003, the soldier who documented her testimony refused to record a statement that she believed the bulldozers were going to destroy civilian homes.
- On the day Rachel was killed, she believed the Israeli Military were planning to demolish homes because they had begun demolishing a house that day by damaging its porch, and, in the days and weeks prior, the military had been demolishing homes along the Philadelphi Corridor.
- She had spoken with many Palestinian families whose homes had been demolished by the Israeli Military in the area where Rachel Corrie was killed .
- She believed the bulldozer driver who killed Rachel could see her.
- She described her view of her work with ISM as promoting peace for the whole region.
Rachel Corrie was crushed to death on March 16, 2003 by a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer. She had been nonviolently demonstrating against Palestinian home demolitions with fellow members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct action methods and principles.
The home Rachel Corrie was protecting, that of Dr. Samir Nasrallah, was, in fact, demolished by the Israeli Military later that year.
According to an October, 2004 Human Rights Watch report, Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip, between 2000 and 2004, the Israeli Military demolished over 2,500 Palestinian houses in Gaza, nearly two thirds of which were located in Rafah, resulting in more than 16,000 people – over 10% of Rafah’s population – losing their homes. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, in its 2004 report Through No Fault of their Own, found that contrary to Israel’s claim that prior warning is given before a home is demolished, in cases of punitive demolitions, occupants were given prior notification in a mere 3% of the time.
The Human Rights’ Watch report further documented that most of the destruction in Rafah occurred along the Israeli-controlled border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt known as the Philadelphi Corridor, the area where Rachel was killed. During regular nighttime raids and with little or no warning, Israeli forces used armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers to raze blocks of homes, incrementally expanding a “buffer zone” that is currently up to three hundred meters wide. The pattern of destruction strongly suggests that Israeli forces demolished homes wholesale, regardless of whether they posed a specific threat, in stark violation of international law.
The trial will continue on Wednesday, March 17, 2010, at 9 a.m. in the Haifa District Court.