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Corrie family calls on Obama to seek justice from Israel

March 16, 2013 9:38 P.M. (Updated: March 19, 2013 9:47 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The father of Rachel Corrie on Friday called for justice from Israel, a day before the tenth anniversary of his daughter's death.

Rachel Corrie, 23, was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003, while trying to prevent the Israeli army from demolishing Palestinian houses.

Official Israeli investigations, criticized by human rights groups, have ruled that her death was an accident and no action would be taken against Israeli military personnel.

Her father Craig Corrie, writing in The Hill newspaper on Friday, said that "President Obama should refuse to continue US military and diplomatic support until Israel gives truthful answers to our questions, not just for US citizens like Rachel and Furkan Dogan, but for all the civilians killed or maimed using US-funded weapons."

He called on Obama, due to visit both Israel and Palestine this week, to "explain that the US will no longer support financially or diplomatically the apartheid system embodied in the occupation of Palestine and in the treatment of Palestinian citizens of Israel."

President Obama must use his upcoming trip to remind the world that Americans believe all people are "created equal" and entitled to the rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Israel court dismisses case

In 2010, Cindy and Craig Corrie launched a civil suit against Israel seeking a symbolic $1 in damages for the death of their daughter Rachel. Their case accused Israel of intentional and unlawful killing and failing to investigate.

Last August, an Israeli judge dismissed the suit and said Israel was not to blame for any "damages caused" as they occurred during wartime.

The judge said Corrie's death was a "regrettable accident," and added that she "did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done."

Democrat Brian Baird of Washington, a retired 6-term congressman who represented Rachel Corrie's district, said following the verdict that the trial was undermined by Israel's failure to conduct a transparent investigation into the 2003 killing.

"Sadly, as I've come to understand, this is standard operating procedure" for many complaints alleging Israeli military misconduct, he said. "The case was dismissed without proper consideration."

Former US President Jimmy Carter said after the verdict that the "killing of an American peace activist is unacceptable," while Amnesty International said the verdict "continues the pattern of impunity for Israeli military violations against civilians and human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."

A spokeswoman for the Corrie family told Ma'an last May that the investigation by Israeli military police into Rachel's death had been "careless and shoddy," as well as emotionally taxing for the family.

Israeli soldiers had signed testimonies about the events and then couldn't remember them in court, the spokeswoman said, adding that the driver of the bulldozer that killed Rachel did not remember her name in court, or the date of the incident.

"Rachel was a human being and we as her family deserved accountability," Cindy Corrie said last year. "The (Israeli) state has worked extremely hard so that the truth behind what happened to my daughter is not exposed."

Rachel Corrie's death made her a symbol of the second intifada, with Palestinians expressing widespread sympathy.
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