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Haaretz: IDF: Death of U.S. activist in Gaza was ‘regrettable accident’

By Arnon Regular, Haaretz Correspondent, and Agencies

The killing of an American woman peace protester Sunday by an IDF bulldozer, which ran her over during the demolition of a house at the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, was a “regrettable accident,” a spokesman for the the IDF said.

“This is a regrettable accident,” said IDF spokesman Captain Jacob Dallal. “We are dealing with a group of protesters who were acting very irresponsibly, putting everyone in danger.”

Rachel Corey [sic], 23, from Olympia, Washington, was killed when she ran in front of the bulldozer to try to prevent it from destroying a house, doctors in Gaza said. Another activist was wounded in the incident.

Hours later, two Palestinians were shot dead by IDF troops in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources said. A Palestinian youth was shot in Khan Yunis, according to the sources, while another man was shot in southern Rafah on the Egypt-Israel border.

“Corey [sic] was killed in the al-Salam neighbourhood when an Israeli bulldozer covered her with sand as she stood in front of a bulldozer,” said Dr Ali Musa, a doctor from the al-Najar hospital in the southern Gaza Strip. He said she died from skull and chest fractures.

Greg Schnabel, 28, from Chicago, said the protesters were in the house of Dr. Samir Masri.

“Rachel was alone in front of the house as we were trying to get them to stop,” he said. “She waved for 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.”

Since the start of the Intifada, groups of international protesters have gathered in several locations in territories, setting themselves up as “human shields” to try to stop IDF operations.

Corey [sic] was the first member of the groups, called “International Solidarity Movement,” to be killed in the conflict. Schnabel said Corey [sic] was a student at Evergreen College and was to graduate this year.

He said there were eight protesters at the site, four from the United States and four from Great Britain. “We stay with families whose house is to be demolished,” he told the Associated Press by telephone from Rafah after the incident.

The U.S. State Department had no immediate comment.