"Rachel Corrie was murdered by Israel while she was peacefully protesting against the illegal demolition of a Palestinian home."
American Rachel Corrie was killed in the Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003, when she entered an area where Israeli forces were carrying out a military operation. The incident occurred while IDF forces were removing shrubbery along the security road near the border between Israel and Egypt at Rafah to uncover explosive devices, and destroying tunnels used by Palestinian terrorists to illegally smuggle weapons from Egypt to Gaza. Corrie was not demonstrating for peace or trying to shield innocent civilians, she was interfering with a military operation to legally demolish an empty house used to conceal one of these tunnels.
A misleading photo published by the Associated Press gave the impression that Corrie was standing in front of the bulldozer and shouting at the driver with a megaphone, trying to prevent the driver from tearing down a building in the refugee camp. This photo, which was taken by a member of Corrie's organization, was not shot at the time of her death, however, but hours earlier. The photographer said that Corrie was actually sitting and waving her arms when she was struck.56
Israel's Judge Advocate's Office investigated the incident and concluded that the driver of the bulldozer never saw or heard Corrie because she was standing behind debris that obstructed the view of the driver whose field of view was limited by the small armored windows of his cab. An autopsy found that the cause of Corrie's death was falling debris.58
The State Department warned Americans not to travel to Gaza, and Israel made clear that civilians who enter areas where troops are engaged in counter-terror operations put themselves unnecessarily at risk.
This was not the first time protestors have tried to obstruct Israeli operations, but the IDF has made every effort to avoid harming them. This case received worldwide publicity in large measure because it was the first such incident where a protestor was killed. In fact, the army had told Corrie and other demonstrators from the anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to move out of the way. "It's possible they [the protesters] were not as disciplined as we would have liked," admitted Thom Saffold, a founder and organizer of ISM.59 It is also possible Rachel Corrie was doing just what ISM placed her there to do. The International Solidarity Movement was spawned, largely funded and directly supervised by the PLO. American members of the organization are trained and funded by the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. Though ISM touts non-violence, in practice, it does the opposite by organizing riots by the security fences between Gaza and Israel every Friday. In the words of a spokesperson for the California ISM on al-Jazeera: "We recognize that violence is necessary and it is permissible for oppressed and occupied people to use armed resistance and we recognize their right to do so."59a
The death of an innocent civilian is always tragic, and the best way to avoid such tragedies in the future is, first and foremost, by Hamas putting an end to terror, and stopping the smuggling operations that have brought huge quantities of illegal weapons into the Gaza Strip. Activists interested in peace should be protesting the Palestinian actions. Activists also have every right to express their views about Israel's policies, but they should take care to avoid the appearance of siding with the terrorists or placing themselves in positions where they could be inadvertently caught in the crossfire of a counter-terror operation or otherwise endangered by entering an area where military operations are being conducted.
56Christian Science Monitor, (April 2, 2003).
58Jerusalem Post, (June 26, 2003).
59Washington Post, (March 17, 2003).
59aCynthia Ozick, "Martyr (A review of My Name is Rachel Corrie: Taken From the Writings of Rachel Corrie)", The New Republic, (December 7, 2006).