Rachel Aliene Corrie (April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003) was an American activist and diarist. She was a member of a pro-Palestinian group called the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). She was killed by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) armored bulldozer in a combat zone in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, under contested circumstances during the height of the second Palestinian intifada.
She had gone to Gaza as part of her senior-year college assignment to connect her home town with Rafah in a sister cities project. While there, she had engaged with other International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists in efforts to prevent the Israeli army’s demolition of Palestinian houses. According to the Israeli authorities the demolitions were carried out to eliminate weapons-smuggling tunnels.[According to human rights groups the demolitions were used as collective punishment.
Less than two months after her arrival, on March 16, 2003, Corrie was killed during an Israeli military operation after a three-hour confrontation between Israeli soldiers operating two bulldozers and eight ISM activists.
The exact nature of her death and the culpability of the bulldozer operator are disputed, with fellow ISM protestors saying that the Israeli soldier operating the bulldozer deliberately ran over Corrie, and Israeli eyewitnesses saying that it was an accident since the bulldozer operator could not see her.
The Israeli army conducted an investigation, which concluded that the death was an accident, and that the driver of the bulldozer could not see Corrie due to limited visibility from his cab. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as B’Tselem and Yesh Din criticized the military investigation.
In 2005, Corrie’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against the state of Israel. The lawsuit charged Israel with not conducting a full and credible investigation into the case and with responsibility for her death, contending that she had either been intentionally killed or that the soldiers had acted with reckless neglect. They sued for a symbolic one US dollar in damages.
In August 2012, an Israeli court rejected their suit and upheld the results of the 2003 military investigation, ruling that the Israeli government was not responsible for Corrie’s death. The ruling was met with criticism by some human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and by activists.
An appeal against the August 2012 ruling was heard on May 21, 2014. On February 14, 2015, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected the appeal.
On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, 23-year-old U.S. peace activist, was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition.
Our friend and fellow activist for peace, Rachel Corrie, 23 years old, was crushed to death on Sunday, March 16, when she was run over by an Israeli-driven, U.S.-made Caterpillar D9 bulldozer.
She, nonviolently, was trying to prevent the Israeli military from demolishing a Palestinian doctor’s home in the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip.
Rachel was in Rafah as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) a Palestinian-led movement of both Palestinians and internationals working together for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The ISM uses nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles to challenge and resist Israel’s brutal 36-year military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and to campaign for the implementation of U.N. resolutions and international law.
In response to the international community’s failure to offer Palestinians an international protection force, Rachel Corrie and other ISM activists actively have confronted Israel’s policy of home demolition, and international apathy toward this policy, by living with families whose homes are threatened and by refusing to leave them, or areas threatened with demolition.
The ISM believes that its presence slows the process of destruction and hopes that the international community ultimately will act to support the daily nonviolent struggle of normal Palestinian families to exist.