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RACHEL CORRIE

Articles below are about 23-year old American Rachel Corrie, who was murdered by Israelis -- intentionally crushed by a bulldozer -- as she sought to defend a Palestinian home from Israeli army demolition.

Excerpts from Corrie's email correspondents with her mother about what she had learned while aiding the oppressed:

Hi friends and family, and others,

I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see.

It is most difficult for me to think about what's going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States. Something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don't know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I'm not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me - Ali - or point at the posters of him on the walls. The children also love to get me to practice my limited Arabic by asking me, "Kaif Sharon?" "Kaif Bush?" and they laugh when I say, "Bush Majnoon", "Sharon Majnoon" back in my limited arabic. (How is Sharon? How is Bush? Bush is crazy. Sharon is crazy.) Of course this isn't quite what I believe, and some of the adults who have the English correct me: "Bush mish Majnoon" ... Bush is a businessman. Today I tried to learn to say, "Bush is a tool", but I don't think it translated quite right. But anyway, there are eight-year-olds here much more aware of the workings of the global power structure than I was just a few years ago.

Nevertheless, no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it - and even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and the fact, of course, that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean. When I leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting halfway between Mud Bay and downtown Olympia at a checkpoint with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I'm done. As an afterthought to all this rambling, I am in Rafah: a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60% of whom are refugees - many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Today, as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, "Go! Go!" because a tank was coming. And then waving and "What's your name?". Something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids. Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what's going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously - occasionally shouting and also occasionally waving - many forced to be here, many just agressive - shooting into the houses as we wander away.

I've been having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but I hear an escalation of war on Iraq is inevitable. There is a great deal of concern here about the "reoccupation of Gaza". Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren't already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope you will start.

My love to everyone. My love to my mom. My love to smooch. My love to fg and barnhair and sesamees and Lincoln School. My love to Olympia.
Rachel

From: Rachel's War,
The Guardian (UK), March 18, 2003




February 20 2003


Mama, Now the Israeli army has actually dug up the road to Gaza, and both of the major checkpoints are closed. This means that Palestinians who want to go and register for their next quarter at university can't. People can't get to their jobs and those who are trapped on the other side can't get home; and internationals, who have a meeting tomorrow in the West Bank, won't make it. We could probably make it through if we made serious use of our international white person privilege, but that would also mean some risk of arrest and deportation, even though none of us has done anything illegal.

The Gaza Strip is divided in thirds now. There is some talk about the "reoccupation of Gaza", but I seriously doubt this will happen, because I think it would be a geopolitically stupid move for Israel right now. I think the more likely thing is an increase in smaller below-the-international-outcry-radar incursions and possibly the oft-hinted "population transfer". I am staying put in Rafah for now, no plans to head north. I still feel like I'm relatively safe and think that my most likely risk in case of a larger-scale incursion is arrest. A move to reoccupy Gaza would generate a much larger outcry than Sharon's assassination-during-peace-negotiations/land grab strategy, which is working very well now to create settlements all over, slowly but surely eliminating any meaningful possibility for Palestinian self-determination. Know that I have a lot of very nice Palestinians looking after me. I have a small flu bug, and got some very nice lemony drinks to cure me. Also, the woman who keeps the key for the well where we still sleep keeps asking me about you. She doesn't speak a bit of English, but she asks about my mom pretty frequently - wants to make sure I'm calling you.

Love to you and Dad and Sarah and Chris and everybody.
Rachel





February 27 2003
(To her mother)
Love you. Really miss you. I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house and you and me inside. Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anesthetic for weeks and then in the evening or at night it just hits me again - a little bit of the reality of the situation. I am really scared for the people here. Yesterday, I watched a father lead his two tiny children, holding his hands, out into the sight of tanks and a sniper tower and bulldozers and Jeeps because he thought his house was going to be exploded. Jenny and I stayed in the house with several women and two small babies. It was our mistake in translation that caused him to think it was his house that was being exploded. In fact, the Israeli army was in the process of detonating an explosive in the ground nearby - one that appears to have been planted by Palestinian resistance.

This is in the area where Sunday about 150 men were rounded up and contained outside the settlement with gunfire over their heads and around them, while tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses - the livelihoods for 300 people. The explosive was right in front of the greenhouses - right in the point of entry for tanks that might come back again. I was terrified to think that this man felt it was less of a risk to walk out in view of the tanks with his kids than to stay in his house. I was really scared that they were all going to be shot and I tried to stand between them and the tank. This happens every day, but just this father walking out with his two little kids just looking very sad, just happened to get my attention more at this particular moment, probably because I felt it was our translation problems that made him leave.

I thought a lot about what you said on the phone about Palestinian violence not helping the situation. Sixty thousand workers from Rafah worked in Israel two years ago. Now only 600 can go to Israel for jobs. Of these 600, many have moved, because the three checkpoints between here and Ashkelon (the closest city in Israel) make what used to be a 40-minute drive, now a 12-hour or impassible journey. In addition, what Rafah identified in 1999 as sources of economic growth are all completely destroyed - the Gaza international airport (runways demolished, totally closed); the border for trade with Egypt (now with a giant Israeli sniper tower in the middle of the crossing); access to the ocean (completely cut off in the last two years by a checkpoint and the Gush Katif settlement). The count of homes destroyed in Rafah since the beginning of this intifada is up around 600, by and large people with no connection to the resistance but who happen to live along the border. I think it is maybe official now that Rafah is the poorest place in the world. There used to be a middle class here - recently. We also get reports that in the past, Gazan flower shipments to Europe were delayed for two weeks at the Erez crossing for security inspections. You can imagine the value of two-week-old cut flowers in the European market, so that market dried up. And then the bulldozers come and take out people's vegetable farms and gardens. What is left for people? Tell me if you can think of anything. I can't.

If any of us had our lives and welfare completely strangled, lived with children in a shrinking place where we knew, because of previous experience, that soldiers and tanks and bulldozers could come for us at any moment and destroy all the greenhouses that we had been cultivating for however long, and did this while some of us were beaten and held captive with 149 other people for several hours - do you think we might try to use somewhat violent means to protect whatever fragments remained? I think about this especially when I see orchards and greenhouses and fruit trees destroyed - just years of care and cultivation. I think about you and how long it takes to make things grow and what a labour of love it is. I really think, in a similar situation, most people would defend themselves as best they could. I think Uncle Craig would. I think probably Grandma would. I think I would.

You asked me about non-violent resistance.

When that explosive detonated yesterday it broke all the windows in the family's house. I was in the process of being served tea and playing with the two small babies. I'm having a hard time right now. Just feel sick to my stomach a lot from being doted on all the time, very sweetly, by people who are facing doom. I know that from the United States, it all sounds like hyperbole. Honestly, a lot of the time the sheer kindness of the people here, coupled with the overwhelming evidence of the wilful destruction of their lives, makes it seem unreal to me. I really can't believe that something like this can happen in the world without a bigger outcry about it. It really hurts me, again, like it has hurt me in the past, to witness how awful we can allow the world to be. I felt after talking to you that maybe you didn't completely believe me. I think it's actually good if you don't, because I do believe pretty much above all else in the importance of independent critical thinking. And I also realise that with you I'm much less careful than usual about trying to source every assertion that I make. A lot of the reason for that is I know that you actually do go and do your own research. But it makes me worry about the job I'm doing. All of the situation that I tried to enumerate above - and a lot of other things - constitutes a somewhat gradual - often hidden, but nevertheless massive - removal and destruction of the ability of a particular group of people to survive. This is what I am seeing here. The assassinations, rocket attacks and shooting of children are atrocities - but in focusing on them I'm terrified of missing their context. The vast majority of people here - even if they had the economic means to escape, even if they actually wanted to give up resisting on their land and just leave (which appears to be maybe the less nefarious of Sharon's possible goals), can't leave. Because they can't even get into Israel to apply for visas, and because their destination countries won't let them in (both our country and Arab countries). So I think when all means of survival is cut off in a pen (Gaza) which people can't get out of, I think that qualifies as genocide. Even if they could get out, I think it would still qualify as genocide. Maybe you could look up the definition of genocide according to international law. I don't remember it right now. I'm going to get better at illustrating this, hopefully. I don't like to use those charged words. I think you know this about me. I really value words. I really try to illustrate and let people draw their own conclusions.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I'm witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I'm really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don't think it's an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world. This is not at all what the people here asked for when they came into this world. This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me. This is not what I meant when I looked at Capital Lake and said: "This is the wide world and I'm coming to it." I did not mean that I was coming into a world where I could live a comfortable life and possibly, with no effort at all, exist in complete unawareness of my participation in genocide. More big explosions somewhere in the distance outside.

When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work. Coming here is one of the better things I've ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.

I love you and Dad. Sorry for the diatribe. OK, some strange men next to me just gave me some peas, so I need to eat and thank them.
Rachel




February 28 2003 (To her mother)

Thanks, Mom, for your response to my email. It really helps me to get word from you, and from other people who care about me.

After I wrote to you I went incommunicado from the affinity group for about 10 hours which I spent with a family on the front line in Hi Salam - who fixed me dinner - and have cable TV. The two front rooms of their house are unusable because gunshots have been fired through the walls, so the whole family - three kids and two parents - sleep in the parent's bedroom. I sleep on the floor next to the youngest daughter, Iman, and we all shared blankets. I helped the son with his English homework a little, and we all watched Pet Semetery, which is a horrifying movie. I think they all thought it was pretty funny how much trouble I had watching it. Friday is the holiday, and when I woke up they were watching Gummy Bears dubbed into Arabic. So I ate breakfast with them and sat there for a while and just enjoyed being in this big puddle of blankets with this family watching what for me seemed like Saturday morning cartoons. Then I walked some way to B'razil, which is where Nidal and Mansur and Grandmother and Rafat and all the rest of the big family that has really wholeheartedly adopted me live. (The other day, by the way, Grandmother gave me a pantomimed lecture in Arabic that involved a lot of blowing and pointing to her black shawl. I got Nidal to tell her that my mother would appreciate knowing that someone here was giving me a lecture about smoking turning my lungs black.) I met their sister-in-law, who is visiting from Nusserat camp, and played with her small baby.

Nidal's English gets better every day. He's the one who calls me, "My sister". He started teaching Grandmother how to say, "Hello. How are you?" In English. You can always hear the tanks and bulldozers passing by, but all of these people are genuinely cheerful with each other, and with me. When I am with Palestinian friends I tend to be somewhat less horrified than when I am trying to act in a role of human rights observer, documenter, or direct-action resister. They are a good example of how to be in it for the long haul. I know that the situation gets to them - and may ultimately get them - on all kinds of levels, but I am nevertheless amazed at their strength in being able to defend such a large degree of their humanity - laughter, generosity, family-time - against the incredible horror occurring in their lives and against the constant presence of death. I felt much better after this morning. I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable. I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances - which I also haven't seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.




Photo story: Israeli bulldozer driver murders American peace activist,
The Electronic Intifada, 16 March 2003

[The Israeli Killing Machine exists because of the Jewish American Lobby. And you can't be a "human shield" against moral depravity if your nemesis has no sense of compassion or humanity.]


Israeli Bulldozer Kills U.S. Woman, 23,
Oakland Tribune (from Associated Press), March 16, 2003
"An American woman in Gaza to protest Israeli operations was killed Sunday when she was run over by an Israeli bulldozer, witnesses and hospital officials said. Rachel Corrie, 23, a college student from Olympia, Wash., had been trying to stop the bulldozer from tearing down a building in the Rafah refugee camp, witnesses said. She was taken to Najar hospital in Rafah, where she died, said Dr. Ali Moussa, a hospital administrator. Greg Schnabel, 28, of Chicago, said the protesters were in the house of Dr. Samir Masri. Israeli almost daily has been tearing down houses of Palestinians it suspects in connection with Islamic militant groups, saying such operations deter attacks on Israel such as suicide bombings. 'Rachel was alone in front of the house as we were trying to get them to stop,' Schnabel said. 'She waved for the bulldozer to stop and waved. She fell down and the bulldozer kept going. We yelled, 'Stop, stop,' and the bulldozer didn't stop at all. It had completely run over her and then it reversed and ran back over her.' Witnesses said Corrie was wearing a brightly colored jacket when the bulldozer hit her. She had been a student at The Evergreen State College in Olympia and would have graduated this year, Schnabel said. ... The U.S. State Department had no immediate comment. Groups of international protesters have gathered in several locations in the West Bank and Gaza during two years of Palestinian violence, setting themselves up as 'human shields' to try to stop Israeli operations ... Mansour Abed Allah, 29, a Palestinian human rights worker in Rafah, witnessed the incident. He said the killing should be a message to President Bush, who is 'providing Israel with tanks and bulldozers, and now they killed one of his own people.'"

Activist's memorial service disrupted,
by Chris McGreal, The Guardian (UK), March 19, 2003
"Israeli forces fired teargas and stun grenades yesterday in an attempt to break up a memorial service for Rachel Corrie, the American peace activist killed by an army bulldozer in Gaza on Sunday. Witnesses including several dozen foreigners and Palestinian supporters say Israeli armoured vehicles tried to disperse the gathering at the spot in Rafah refugee camp where Ms Corrie was crushed to death. The 23 year-old activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) was trying to prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes by the Israelis when she was hit by the bulldozer. Joe Smith, a young activist from Kansas City, said about 100 people were gathered to lay carnations and erect a small memorial when the first armoured personnel carrier appeared. 'They started firing teargas and blowing smoke, then they fired sound grenades. After a while it got hectic so we sat down. Then the tank came over and shot in the air,' he said. 'It scared a lot of Palestinians, especially the shooting made a lot of them run and the teargas freaked people out. But most of us stayed.' Another witness said the army failed to break up the service. 'People were laying carnations at the spot where Rachel was killed when a tank came and fired teargas right on them. Then a core group of the peace activists took an ISM cloth banner to the fence and pinned it up. 'The tank chased after them trying to stop them with teargas but the wind was against the army,' she said. Tensions rose further when a convoy of vehicles, including the bulldozer that killed Ms Corrie, passed the area. 'I don't think it was deliberate but it was pretty insensitive,' said Mr Smith. 'I think they had been destroying some buildings elsewhere and had to pass by to get back to their base.' The army said it was investigating the incident."

Cartoon incites all-night protest 60+ demand apology, protest newspaper in year's 2nd-largest rally,
Diamondback (University of Maryland), March 18, 2003
"More than 60 students rallied against The Diamondback yesterday and staged a sit-in protest planned to last into today in front of the newspaper's office, demanding a public apology for a controversial editorial cartoon about the death of pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie. The group, which included members of the Peace Forum and the Muslim Student Association, protested the March 18 editorial cartoon by Daniel J. Friedman that labeled Corrie as having 'stupidity' for 'sitting in front of a bulldozer to protect a gang of terrorists.' Corrie was killed while trying to avert an Israeli Army bulldozer from razing a house in Gaza. The protesters listed three demands: a formal apology printed in the newspaper, an article honoring Corrie's life and a statement detailing The Diamondback's editorial procedure. Flanked by two University Police officers, Parsons read a statement defending Friedman's cartoon as an expression of free speech and described the editorial process. 'Neither this cartoon, or any other editorial cartoon, is representative of the opinions of myself, the editorial board or the Diamondback staff,' Parsons told the crowd. 'As a newspaper, we are the beneficiaries and the guardians of the First Amendment - the very same First Amendment that guarantees all of you the right to stand here today.' Parsons said the cartoon met the editorial staff's criteria: It did not incite violence and was not considered libelous. He would not offer an apology for publishing the cartoon, and dodged questions about his opinion on the matter. Parsons said afterwards he would not comment on his personal opinion ... When Parsons returned to the newsroom after about 15 minutes with the crowd, newsroom doors were locked and police stood guard as protesters vowed to stay through the night. The cartoon has sparked global outrage, as close to 2,000 e-mails and hundreds of phone calls have flooded The Diamondback, most condemning the cartoon and the newspaper, though a few were supportive of the newspaper. The cartoon has been published without permission on various websites with the newspaper's contact information."



[More Jewish desecration of the memory of Rachel Corrie:]

News. Opinion. [Letters to the Editor]
by Anne Lieberman Media Watch/Jewish Identity Center, Boulder, CO,
Colorado Daily
, March 26, 2003
"Corrie's death misused by media, liberals Paul Wehr ("Responsibility," 3/21/03) refers to the death of Rachel Corrie as a "sobering event." If only it were. A Google/News search for "Rachel Corrie" produces 1,260 "hits" (3/23/03). Rachel Corrie's death is being glorified - by Palestinians as well as their left-wing American supporters. Graffiti in Gaza reads, "Rachel was a US citizen with Palestinian blood." Yasser Arafat has pledged to name a street after her. In American media she is referred to as a martyred "peace activist." At the time of her death, Corrie was not volunteering to ride public transportation in Israel; she was not protesting the disruption of peace caused by suicide bombs. She was not even marching in front of the Prime Minister's office, objecting to Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. She was interfering with an Israeli military operation to destroy terrorist tunnels, arms and explosives hiding places, and the homes of terrorists. She was there to protect the property of terrorists, something even the Palestinians don't do. The International Solidarity Movement has removed from their website the photos of Rachel Corrie burning a mock American flag in a Gaza rally in February, amidst a crowd of Palestinian children, her face contorted by anger and hatred. Either they were ashamed, or it was just bad PR for the drafting of new "human shields." In stark contrast, little attention has been paid to the death of Abigail Leitel, a 14-year-old Baptist Israeli, who like Corrie was an American citizen. Leitel was murdered March 5th, incinerated on a Haifa bus by a Palestinian suicide bomber. She was one of nine teenagers killed on that bus. An eighth-grader who was taking part in an Arab-Jewish co-existence project, Abigail Leitel is of little interest; a Google/News search produces only 24 "hits" on her name, and to my knowledge, no one interviewed her family or friends. She quickly became an obscurity, lost in the numbers of Israeli dead. I find this scenario deeply disturbing. For the record, for the future Google-search someone else will undertake, Rachel Corrie was no peace activist. She took the side of Palestinian terrorists over their innocent victims. She went to the other side of the world to burn the American flag. She was the quintessential arrogant American, thinking her point of view held moral superiority over the obligation of Israel to protect Abigail Leitel. She was wrong."

Israeli bulldozer makes a martyr of American peace campaigner,
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), March 29 2003
"As always, Rachel Corrie went to the falafel stall where she had lunch and bantered with the Palestinian proprietors. Carrying a loudspeaker and wearing an orange fluorescent vest, the young American peace campaigner was heading for a protest against the Israeli Army's demolition of Palestinian houses in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah. Later that afternoon, on March16, Ms Corrie, 23, died under an Israeli bulldozer and became a heroine for Palestine ... Ms Corrie's courage is in no doubt. Simply being in Rafah is terrifying. There are daily gun battles and Israeli tank incursions and air bombardments. The city is overlooked by Israeli watch towers known as the "towers of death". It is squalid and oppressed. ISM activists chose to live there to bring attention to the misery of the Palestinians and show solidarity with people perceived as terrorists by most Americans. They are respected and welcomed by the Palestinians, and often act as human shields to protect children from gunfire by walking them to school. Ms Corrie had become politically conscious only since September11, 2001 ... The posters of Ms Corrie that began to appear on buildings and lampposts look incongruous beside pictures of the hundreds of Arab men, women and babies killed in the intifada. The homage began as US troops were preparing for the invasion of Iraq, seen by many in Palestine as a crusade against the Arab world. Tom Dale, 18, a British friend of Ms Corrie and fellow activist, said he saw her die. First, he said, there was fear on her face as she realised that her defiant gesture was going wrong. Joe Smith, 21, who went to college with her, said that, although they acknowledged the danger, they saw death as a "small, unlikely, potential risk". The activists have compelling photographic evidence to support witness claims that Ms Corrie's killing was deliberate. Mr Dale watched as she knelt down in front of the bulldozer, perhaps 20 metres away, something the activists had done repeatedly. 'Unfortunately, she couldn't keep her grip there and she started to slip down,' Mr Dale said. 'All the activists there were screaming, running towards the bulldozer, trying to get them to stop. But they just kept on going.' The activists said the driver saw her. 'As the mound grew higher she climbed up, getting to eye level with the driver. He saw her in her fluorescent orange jacket. But he kept on going,' Mr Smith said. A traumatised Mr Smith raised his camera and took photographs: Ms Corrie standing in front of the bulldozer; then her bloodied body being pulled from the freshly turned soil; being cradled in the arms of her friends. "If only they'd had a video camera," one Palestinian journalist lamented. 'A film of the Israelis killing an American in cold blood would have ended the intifada.' The weight of the heavy-duty, US-made military earthmover crushed Ms Corrie deep into the soil. Once. Twice. She was still alive when the driver, an Israeli soldier, reversed over her, but she died soon after being taken to Rafah hospital, where she regained consciousness for a moment. Her last words were: 'My back is broken' ... The Israeli Army sent its own representative to Ms Corrie's memorial service a week after her death. A tank pulled up beside the mourners and sprayed them with tear gas. A bizarre game of cat-and-mouse began as the peace activists chased the tank around to throw flowers on it, and the Israeli soldiers inside threatened, in return, to run them down. The game ended when the Israeli bulldozers came out, accompanied by more APCs, firing guns and percussion bombs. The insult was as clear as the danger of the situation and the people went home, the service halted. There are those who dismiss Western activists as just well-intentioned "political tourists", naive and ineffectual do-gooders. On the night of Rachel Corrie's death, nine Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, among them a four-year-old girl and a man aged 90. A total of 220 people have died in Rafah since the beginning of the intifada."

[Another Rachel Corrie. Israelis don't play games. No need for talk about compassion and humanity: they aim to kill people.]
American Peace Activist Shot in West Bank,
Earthlink (from Associated Press), April 5, 2003
"An American peace activist working as a human shield in the West Bank was seriously wounded on Saturday when Israeli troops allegedly opened fire on him. Brian Avery, 24, from Albuquerque, N.M., heard shots fired and came out of his apartment building in Jenin to investigate just as an armored personnel carrier rounded a corner, said Tobias Karlsson, a fellow activist from Sweden. Both Avery and Karlsson are members of the Palestinian-backed group International Solidarity Movement. 'We had our hands up and we were wearing vests that clearly identified us as international workers when they began firing,' Tobias said. 'Brian was shot in the face, and it looks like he was hit by a heavy caliber bullet because of the extent of the wound.' Avery was taken to a Jenin hospital but will be transferred to an Israeli hospital. There was no immediate comment from the army. Tobias said he, Avery and a Palestinian medical worker not with the group were approached slowly by the troops and stood with their hands up for about 10 minutes. There was no communication with the soldiers, who Tobias says fired unprovoked. Avery was semiconscious when taken in the ambulance, Tobias said. There were few Palestinians on the streets Saturday because of a curfew Israeli troops were enforcing."

[It's open season on American peace activists in Israel. Murdering them is now a weekly occurence.]
British peace activist shot by IDF troops in Gaza Strip,
by Tsahar Rotem, Haaretz (Isarel), April 12, 2003
"Israel Defense Forces troops firing from a tank critically wounded a British man Friday as he and other activists in a pro-Palestinian group approached an army position on the edge of a Gaza refugee camp, witnesses said. The Briton, Thomas Hurndall, 21, from Manchester, suffered a head injury that left him comatose and hooked up to a respirator, said doctors. He was the second foreigner to be harmed in a week. A third member of the group, the International Solidarity Movement, was killed while trying to stop an Israeli army bulldozer a month ago, near where Hurndall was shot Friday. The IDF had no comment about Friday's shooting... . The activists wanted to set up a protest tent on the road, in an attempt to block incursions, said Hamra and Khalil Abdullah, a Palestinian who works with the group but who is not a member. Along the way, the protesters were joined by several children, the witnesses said. When the group was about 200 yards away from three tanks, soldiers opened fire from a tank-mounted machine gun, the witnesses said. Hurndall and another foreign activist tried to get two children out of the line of fire, Hamra and Abdullah said. 'Thomas grabbed one of their hands and as soon as he did that a tank fired at him, hitting him in the head,' Hamra said. The photographer said the children were not throwing rocks at the troops and that he saw nothing that would have provoked the troops. Hurndall was declared brain dead after arriving at Rafah Hospital, said Dr. Ali Musa ... A few blocks from where Friday's shooting occurred, American activist Rachel Corrie, 23, was killed on March 16 while trying to stop an Israeli army bulldozer. Witnesses said the bulldozer ran her over and then backed up. The army said the driver did not see her and that her death was an accident. Corrie, a student in Olympia, Washington, was the first member of the group to be killed in 30 months of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. Last week, Bryan Avery, 24, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was shot in the face while walking with a fellow activist in the West Bank town of Jenin."

Road maps and dead ends,
Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont), April 14, 2003 [Editorial]
"If the daily deaths of Palestinian civilians are not enough to make the United States stand up to Israel, then how about the shooting of two Western peace activists within a week, less than a month after American Rachel Corrie was killed beneath the treads of an Israeli bulldozer? Like dozens of international peace volunteers, these brave young people went to Palestine to try to protect civilians, of whom hundreds have been killed during the uprising of the past two years. Here's what they got for their trouble: Rachel Corrie, 23, of Seattle, was crushed to death last month in Gaza as she attempted to block a bulldozer from demolishing the home of a Palestinian doctor. Brian Avery, 24, of New Mexico, was shot in the face in Jenin last weekend as he stood with colleagues on a street corner, waiting to go to a refugee camp where shooting had been heard. He remains in critical condition and may never speak again. On Saturday, Tom Hurndall, 21, of Britain, was fatally shot in the head as he tried to get children out of the line of fire in Gaza. These are quiet heroes, hundreds of miles from the well-publicized front lines in Baghdad, standing in where their governments have failed in their moral obligation to protect civilians being killed by weapons bought with American money. Yet while Jessica Lynch captures American hearts, Rachel Corrie and Brian Avery remain unknown. Two peace-loving Americans and one British civilian have suffered the same fate that befalls Palestinians civilians every day. Still, the Israeli government feels so confident in its actions that it didn't even bother to brief its American diplomats on the Avery shooting. Asked about the shooting four days after it happened, Israel's consul general to New England, Hillel Newman, said he was unaware of it. Nor did he carry out his pledge to find out about it and get back to us. The fact that this shooting was taken so casually as to not even merit mention in a diplomatic brief speaks volumes about Israel's position in this country. Those who dare broach Israel with a critical eye risk the extreme discomfort of the slanderous label 'anti-Semitic,' 'anti-Jew' or 'anti-Israel.' Blind allegiance to Israel and its occupation of the Palestinians is sheer folly, especially now, as the United States attempts to make its way through the new road map of the Middle Eas ... . By perpetuating this occupation, with its total disregard for human rights and international law, [Ariel] Sharon continues to fuel a terrorist breeding ground, and the cycle will continue. The United States cannot sit idly by as civilians are shot, with lawmakers afraid to insist on an investigation or even to support a toothless resolution commemorating Rachel Corrie, while the soldier who killed her is back on the job. What's imperative now is a bold approach to this intransigent problem. American politicians will continue to fear a backlash as long as their constituents remain silent. Call your congressional representatives and tell them what's happening is not acceptable. Urge them to find the courage to stand up to those who would counsel blind faith. We cannot remain blind to Palestine. It exists on no map, but lives fiercely and stubbornly in the hearts of millions. It's time to recognize both states, and the legitimate rights of both peoples to live in security and peace."

UK envoys held at gunpoint by Israelis,
by Chris McGreal, The Guardian (UK), May 6, 2003
"Israeli forces opened fire above a British embassy convoy and held it at gunpoint in Gaza while it was carrying diplomats and the family of an English peace activist left in a coma by an Israeli bullet. Two armoured Range Rovers with diplomatic plates were forced to halt as they drove through the Abu Houli crossing on Sunday, even though British officials had notified Israeli forces of their arrival 10 minutes earlier. The group was en route to the Rafah refugee camp where Tom Hurndall, 21, was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper last month as he tried to protect a five-year-old girl. During the standoff one of the diplomats, Andrew Whitaker, emerged from one car with his hands above his head to try to talk to soldiers hidden behind concrete pillboxes, while the British defence attache to Tel Aviv, Colonel Tom Fitzallen Howard, phoned the army for an explanation. 'There's a complete lack of control. They fire without warning,' said Tom Hurndall's father, Anthony, who was in one car with his wife and 12-year-old son. 'As we passed the first pillbox a shot was fired over the cars. We weren't clear why, or what was happening. Nobody came out, we couldn't tell if we were supposed to get out or go on. 'The political officer from Jerusalem bravely got out of the car and had to put his hands over his head not knowing if they viewed us as hostile. They wouldn't let us move from under their guns.' After several minutes a hand emerged from one of the pillboxes and waved on the vehicles without explanation. Mr Hurndall said Col Fitzallen Howard immediately called the army contact he had spoken to minutes earlier. "His immediate reaction was to say he didn't get the message down in time. The colonel said: 'Regardless of that, why did you fire at us? You shot at official embassy cars for no reason.' The Israeli's excuse was that we didn't stop. He said we were supposed to go through one by one but that is simply not true,' Mr Hurndall said. 'Then they tried to say they did it to check our documents but they never did.'"


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