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ISM Rejects Israeli Investigation into
Death of US Peace Activist

15 April 2003

RAMALLAH - The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) rejected an Israeli army investigation into the death of American peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while trying to prevent it from demolishing Palestinian houses in Rafah, which concluded that its forces were not to blame for the incident.

The ISM is a group, which helps Palestinians in danger of having their houses demolished by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). It uses non-violent methods to protest the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

The Israeli occupation army accused Corrie and other members of the ISM of “illegal, irresponsible and dangerous” behavior.

The investigation, led by the chief of the general staff of Israeli “defense” forces, found that the IOF soldiers were not guilty of any misconduct.

The army report claimed Corrie “was struck as she stood behind a mound of earth that was created by an engineering vehicle operating in the area and she was hidden from the view of the vehicle's operator who continued with his work. Corrie was struck by dirt and a slab of concrete resulting in her death.”

Contrary to eyewitness accounts, the report further alleged that “the finding of the operational investigations shows that Rachel Corrie was not run over by an engineering vehicle but rather was struck by a hard object, most probably a slab of concrete which was moved or slid down while the mound of earth which she was standing behind was moved.”

Fellow ISM activists who witnessed Corrie’s death said the American was crushed to death by the Israeli army bulldozer in Rafah in what they said was a deliberate act of murder.

The ISM said the bulldozer ran over her and then backed up.

Joe Smith, 21, from Missouri who witnessed Corrie’s death said that the IOF description bore little resemblance to what he saw. “Rachel was kneeling 20 meters in front of the bulldozer on flat ground. There was no way she could not have been seen. We only maintain positions that are clearly visible.”

“She had been doing this all day but this time the driver did not stop. Once she had fallen under the bulldozer, the driver stopped when she was under its middle section and reversed,” he added.

The Israeli army report also says that IOF was patrolling ‘no man’s’ land by the border zone, searching for explosives. But according to Smith, Corrie believed that they intended to demolish the house where she had been staying.

Tom Wallace, a spokesman for the ISM, said that the army’s investigation had been far from credible and transparent, as it had promised.

“The conclusions are outrageous. If they found that the driver was not culpable what did they find to explain this? How could they find a driver who had run someone over in a slow and deliberate manner in no way responsible?” he said.

Earlier, IOF army claimed Corrie’s slaying was an “accident” and that bulldozer driver had not seen the woman.

Witnesses—other fellow ISM activists—who were with the young pacifist said the driver had seen her and had deliberately killed her and drove over her twice before pulling away.

Pictures taken by the ISM also showed Corrie, who was wearing a florescent vest in broad daylight, was in full view of the driver.

The result of the Israeli army investigation comes as another ISM member Tom Hurndall, 21, from London lies in coma in a hospital with severe brain damage after he was shot in the head on Friday by an Israeli sniper as he tried to help Palestinian children caught in Israeli line of fire in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

He was shot wearing a similar bright orange vest as Corrie was when she was killed.

Hurndall’s fellow activists accused the IOF army of deliberately targeting foreigners who go into the occupied territory to help to protect Palestinians and bear witness to conditions there.

The British student was the second pacifist to be shot and seriously injured by IOF in one week.

Another American peace activist was seriously injured last week when IOF shot him in the face with a heavy caliber bullet in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, witnesses who were with the 24-year-old, said.

Brian Avery was taken to the Martyr Dr. Khalil Suleiman Hospital in Jenin where he was treated for shrapnel wounds to his face.

As usual, IOF claimed some Palestinians were firing at them and they had retaliated.

However, Tobias Karlsson, a friend of the victim, refuted that claim, saying a curfew was in place in the northern West Bank city, and that there were no Palestinians on the streets, armed or otherwise.

Six months ago in Jenin, an Irish activist Caoimhe Butterly, 23, was shot in the leg and UN