Oral Response to Verdict from the Press Conference at the Colony Hotel, Haifa, Israel.
(Haifa, Israel – August 28, 2012)
My name is Cindy Corrie. My family has asked me to make a few comments to you before we open it up to questions and at that time you will be able to hear from all of us.
First of all, we all want to thank our friends and supporters, who are here in Israel, in the West Bank, in Gaza, at home in Olympia, Washington, across the United States, and across the world. You all know who you are. You have held us in your hearts for all these years and have helped us in so many different ways. And, we would not be here without that support.
Our family wants to especially thank our legal team, headed by Hussein abu Hussein, and all who have supported us in the many different efforts to get us to this point here today. The commitment, the knowledge, the generosity, the kindness, and the patience that has been extended to us in this process by all of you, is immeasurably important to us and will never be forgotten.
We are, of course, deeply saddened and deeply troubled by what we heard today from Judge Oded Gershon in the Haifa District Court.
I believe that this was a bad day, not only for our family, but a bad for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law, and also for the country of Israel.
From the beginning it was clear to us that there was a process of investigation; operational investigations, military police investigations, and it was confirmed to us today that that extends through the court system in Israel – a well healed system to protect the Israeli military, the soldiers who conduct actions in that military, to provide them with impunity at the cost of all the civilians who are impacted by what they do.
We knew from the start that a civil lawsuit would be an uphill battle, but as a family we had to push for answers, for accountability and for justice. The diplomatic process between the United States and Israel failed us. And today, the Israeli court system demonstrated its failure to us.
A civil lawsuit is not a substitute for a credible investigation, which we never had. But this lawsuit was our only recourse as a family. Rachel was a human being who deserved accountability. And, we as her family deserved accountability.
There is never closure when you have a family member killed in such a way. There is only ability to do everything in your power to see that there is some justice. And that is what we have been pursuing for the last nine and a half years.
We started this process seeking truth about what happened to Rachel. But, we also wanted to work for changes that would make it less likely that other families would have to go through an experience like this.
We recognize that as problematic as the process has been for us, and despite the result, that we at least have had access to a court system, a basic tenet of justice that most Palestinian families, whom we know, who have suffered similar losses, are denied.
Through this process we have learned more. But, as was evident today, the State has worked extremely hard to make sure that the full truth about what happened to my daughter is not exposed and that those responsible for her killing are not held accountable.
Disturbingly, rather than changes that would broaden protections for civilians, we have seen in the past years more families plunged into loss and grief, that should have been avoided. Just as we insist Rachel’s killing could have, and should have, been avoided.
We believe that Rachel was seen. Everything that we knew coming into this process, reinforced by all that we saw and heard in court confirmed our belief that at least one soldier in the D-9R bulldozer knew Rachel was in the path. The bulldozer personnel had not only the ability, but also the obligation to see who was in front of their machine. And, we believe someone in that bulldozer did.
The policies that Rachel came to Gaza to oppose, that led to her killing and to the killing of so many others must change. Disregard for civilians and the policies that permit destroying a family’s home – these need to change. At the very least, we hope that our lawsuit will make some small difference in making those changes more likely.
Sitting in court in September of 2010, we heard a colonel in the Israeli military testify that there are no civilians in war. Rachel was in Gaza because there were and there are civilians there. Those who have rights and deserve protection. And, their photo is here in the room. Part of the family that Rachel stood, whose house she stood in front of, to defend.
There were four parents, and five children, behind the wall where she stood that day when she was killed. We have come to know them personally and have grown to care about them deeply. Part of the family came to visit us in the United States.
Rachel’s right to life and dignity were violated by the actions of the Israeli military. Through our efforts, we hope that somehow we’ve done something to secure these same rights for the Nasrallah children, and for the children of all of our Israeli and Palestinian friends, whose support has helped us in the last nine years.
And, I’m just going to ask you to bear with me, for about a minute and a quarter more. Because, during this court proceeding I felt, I may have trouble finding this, but I felt a little bit that Rachel the very living human being that I knew, was sometimes not present… it was Rachel lying in the tracks. And Rachel was a very, a rich thinker and a beautiful person. And, I need to bring a little bit of her to you. And, this is the letter that she wrote to Nyla, one of the young, a very young woman that she was staying with in one of the houses that was threatened with demolition and eventually demolished, when she was in Gaza. So, from Rachel:
(As read from the book Let Me Stand Alone – The Journals of Rachel Corrie by Rachel Corrie, Published: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2008)
You are a beautiful person inside and out. You have been very kind to me, and I can see that you have a good heart. I can also see that you are very intelligent. Thank you for being my friend, for helping me with Arabic, for accepting me into your home. I will never forget your generosity. You are a very talented person. Do not ever forget that you deserve all the best things in life. I hope you will follow your dreams. I believe that you will be good at whatever you do. Whether you are a teacher, a chemist, a translator, a diplomat, or anything else, the world will be better because of your work. Life is difficult for people here in Rafah. The world should be ashamed of this. But also, we should be inspired by people like you who show human beings can be kind, brave, generous, beautiful, strong—even in the most difficult of circumstances. Thank you for existing, for helping me see how good people can be, despite great hardship. I will be thinking of you. Follow your dreams. Believe in yourself. Don’t give up.
Much love and respect, Rachel Corrie from Olympia, WA, USA