Family of U.S. activist slain in Israel awaits verdict

Rachel Corrie during March 14, 2003 interview with MBC Saudi Arabia television in Rafah refugee camp in Gaza Strip. Corrie was run over and killed by Israeli bulldozer two days later.
Lorenzo Scaraggi/Getty Images

(AP) JERUSALEM — Almost a decade after their daughter was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer as she tried to block its path in a Gaza Strip conflict zone, Rachel Corrie's parents are preparing for a judge's ruling in their high-profile civil lawsuit against the military.

They hope Tuesday's court decision will conclude a case that's turned their daughter into a rallying cry for pro-Palestinian activists, taken years of their life and drained their savings.

"We are here with a great deal of anticipation for Tuesday," said Corrie's mother, Cindy, 64, a homemaker and musician from Olympia, Washington. "We are hoping for some accountability here for what happened to Rachel."

Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist, was 23 when she was killed in March 2003 while she and other activists sought to block an Israeli military bulldozer they believed was about to demolish Palestinian homes in the Gaza border town of Rafah. The driver has said he didn't see Corrie, and the death was accidental.

The Israeli army had been undertaking systematic house demotions in the densely populated border area, trying to halt shooting and mortar attacks against soldiers and Jewish settlers who used the route. The house destruction sparked international condemnation at the time.

While several foreign activists were killed or wounded in confrontations with the Israeli military during the last decade, Corrie's case has taken on special meaning for Palestinian activists.

U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie lies bleeding while being helped by colleagues after she was run over by an Israeli bulldozer March 16, 2003 in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza strip.
International Solidarity Movement/Getty Images

For her supporters, she became a symbol of what they say is Israel's harsh repression of nonviolent protest to occupation. They saw in her a young middle class American who died believing that she was defending the homes of strangers. She was a passionate writer whose works showed how deeply moved she was by the suffering she saw around her.

Corrie's parents published those letters, and artists made a play about her life.

Corrie belonged to the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, whose activists enter conflict zones and try interfere with activities of Israel's military. Supporters of Israel argue that Corrie, like thousands of other foreign activists, recklessly chose to risk her life.

"Rachel Corrie was injured as a result of her prohibited action, for which she is solely responsible, due to her considerable negligence and lack of caution," the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

The family's case is the first civil lawsuit of a foreigner harmed by Israel's military to conclude in a full civilian trial. Others have resulted in out-of-court settlements.

Since the Corries went to court in 2005, there have been 15 hearings and testimony from 23 witnesses.

They hope the court will apportion blame to the bulldozer driver and his superiors, who have all been cleared of wrongdoing in a military court.

The Corries are seeking a symbolic $1 in damages, along with compensation for the money they've spent bringing the case to trial.