Activist speaks of death in Gaza

By Gus Bode

International solidarity movement member joe carr spoke at interfaith center Wednesday

He saw her die.

Crushed beneath the bulldozer, Rachel Corrie, who once stood defiant in front of a Caterpillar piece of machinery, had been trampled defending her surrogate Palestinian family.


Joe Carr stood nearby and witnessed the ground swell of dirt that pushed Corrie back as she protected a building with her body. The earth pushed up like a wave, weakening her hold on the ground, and then she went under. She was gone, and the bulldozer plowed on. The machine stopped. Then it reversed. Re-tracing the steps it took to smash the 23-year-old into the ground, the blade pressed down scraping over her body a second time.

Carr and Corrie had joined the International Solidarity Movement for much of the same reason; they could change the world through actions many of their peers had overlooked. The ISM is a Palestinian-led movement of both Palestinians and internationals working together for an end to the Israeli conflict that revolves around Palestine.

Carr, who spoke at the Interfaith Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday, told of the horrors and atrocities he witnessed protecting Palestinians families and their homes from military incursions.

“Every time we would climb onto these dirt mountains they stopped, because they knew if we were there we wouldn’t be able to maintain it for very long,” Carr said. ” This time he continued driving, which caused her to fall backward. And he continued until she was buried under the mound, which pulled her underneath the bulldozer.

“Despite this, he actually reversed and without lifting the heavy blade of the bulldozer he ran her over again.”

An initial autopsy was performed at the National Center of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv. The Olympian, the local newspaper from Olympia, Wash., reported March 20 that her “death was caused by pressure on the chest from a mechanical apparatus.”

At the same time, an issue of the Jerusalem Post on June 26, 2003, reported, “An autopsy found that the cause of Corrie’s death was falling debris.”


Regardless of the controversy, Carr saw her die.

“He could have lifted that blade at any time had he cared, at least the first time. He didn’t, so you can see it was intentional.”

Carr traveled form Kansas City, Mo., to Evergreen College in Washington, where he met Corrie at an ISM meeting. It was purely coincidental that as he traveled to Rahfah in the southern-most tip of the Palestine territories he would meet her for the last time.

It is a city surrounded by four walls, a “maximum security prison,” as Carr calls it, within the larger “jail” known as the Gaza Strip. Every four days there is an adult who is shot and killed there, or maybe shelled by a stray mortar from a tank. But even more alarming, every 15 days a child is killed.

They grow up never knowing the normalcy of life Americans experience. Instead, they are subject to military raids and shells for toys as well as their homes being direct targets of Israeli barrels that shell them on a constant basis.

“You can almost always hear it,’ Carr said. ‘Sometimes I think they shoot just to shoot into the air.”

As part of the ISM, Carr and Corrie stayed in homes to deter gunfire and potential home demolitions. The ISM had taken the place of United Nation peacekeepers because the United States had vetoed their presence in the region. Their international status, coupled by the color of their skin, prevented the Israelis from shooting without questions at homes and people.

” We stayed in homes all along the border,” he said. ” That would detour gunfire and potential demolitions.

“Their racist mind sets could not justify killing us like the Palestinians.”

Out of the 10,000 demolitions that occur every year in the occupied territories, less then 5percent of home demolitions are of suicide bomber’s families. Inside many of the homes, the Palestinians stay within the confines of the central-most room of the house. According to Carr, it is so the bullets have more walls to go through before they harm anyone.

“In some instances there was eight to 15 people sleeping in one room,” he said.

In one instance, Carr and his fellow members had been called to retrieve a body lying in front of a guard wall and tower. The Palestinians were forbidden from venturing too close to the walls protecting the Israeli side of the fence.

Israeli settlers who are encroaching on the Palestinian land make up a total of .5 percent of the population and use 40 percent of the land, which allows for more restricted movement for Palestinians.

That day as they stood outside of Dr. Samir’s home, they had spent several hours staring into the machinery used for demolitions. The group of international workers, makeshift peacekeepers, wore their bright orange coats and shouted into their megaphones. They denounced what they saw as unprovoked terror of an army adhering to racist ideology.

In a Sunday night interview, Carr said Americans could have an instrumental impact on the carrying out of illegal activities against the Palestinians if they stand up and demand action.

“Rachel was killed by a Caterpillar American bulldozer,” he said. ” It’s all American equipment. They’re the dealer of this occupation.

“Americans could have a huge influence on how our money gets spent.”

Members of the Israeli army and associated Israeli settler paramilitary units have been responsible for the killing of 2,181 Palestinians and the injuring of another 22,218 between Sept. 29, 2000, and March 14, 2003.

Along with the death of Rachel Corrie by the bulldozer driver, Israeli troops have shot and killed several other internationals in different incidents during the Intifada including German doctor Harald Fischer, Italian cameraman Rafaeli Ciriello and British United Nations worker Iain Hook.