On November 30, our family’s attorney Hussein abu Hussein submitted his written summation of our civil lawsuit against the Israeli military for Rachel’s killing. The first testimony of the suit (originally filed March 15, 2005) was heard in Haifa District Court on March 10, 2010, and the last on July 10, 2011. State attorneys will now have three months to file their summation, followed by two weeks for a reply from our side. We expect a verdict in the spring of 2012.
It has, at times, been hard to listen to testimony from the Israeli military. While soldiers on the scene have testified that they recognized Rachel and her ISM friends as non-violent demonstrators, their superior officers stated under oath that there are no civilians in war and that the military is at war with everyone in Gaza. After Rachel was killed, the Deputy Battalion Commander reflected in the day’s operations log that orders were to “shoot to kill” anyone in the border area between Gaza and Egypt. His Brigade Commander later confirmed that order. The DBC testified further that this area was ever-expanding – up to the next row of Palestinian houses in Rafah.
Throughout the trial, as the word “terrorist” was applied to every Palestinian in Rafah, I could not help but think of the two families (four adults and five children) huddled behind their garden wall that day as Rachel stood before it. In some ways the most disturbing allegation came from the last witness, the Brigade Commander. In his written affidavit, he stated that his troops had been fired upon from the home Rachel was defending when she was killed. Later, under cross examination, he clarified that the incident happened long after the family was forced from their home by his troops. The realization that his soldiers were safer while this Palestinian family lived in their home, rather than after they were evicted, never seemed to enter the Commander’s mind.
Our family entered this lawsuit to gain information and accountability from the Israeli military. But with that information, we see just how inadequate accountability is – even if we succeed in gaining it from the court. It cannot bring back Rachel or the thousands killed in the second intifada. It is not enough to challenge and punish past transgressions. We must work to stop such egregious acts before they are committed in the first place. Instead of officers who view the other only as “terrorist,” we must demand that our leaders see in these families the potential for new friends.
Our family expects to share more specifics when the verdict is in and we are able to reflect on the entire process. We thank the Rachel Corrie Foundation for providing space to provide information and insight from the trial experience.
By Craig Corrie.