10 July 2011 | Associated Press
An Israeli court heard its final witness Sunday in a trial surrounding the death of American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003.
Israel’s commanding officer in Gaza at the time, Col. Pinhas Zuaretz, testified Sunday.
Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist from Olympia, Washington, who was 23 at the time, was killed when she stood before the bulldozer on the Gaza-Egypt border. She and other activists believed the military was about to demolish nearby Palestinian homes.
The military cleared the soldier who drove the bulldozer, saying he could not see the activist.
That prompted Corrie’s parents to file a civil suit against Israel’s Defense Ministry in 2005, charging Israel with responsibility for killing their daughter.
The trial opened in 2010 and had 15 hearings and 23 witnesses. The verdict is scheduled to be announced April 23, 2012, said Craig Corrie, the dead woman’s father.
“I demand to get some kind of accountability,” he said. “That’s what a court can do. That’s certainly why we’re here.”
Corrie belonged to a pro-Palestinian group called the International Solidarity Movement, whose activists enter conflict zones despite Israeli bans and attempt to interfere with the activities of Israel’s military.
Corrie’s death made her a symbol for pro-Palestinian activists, and a play has been written about her.
An officer who testified earlier in the trial said Corrie and other pro-Palestinian activists had spent hours trying to block two military bulldozers under his command from clearing vegetation and rubble near the border, ignoring repeated warnings to leave.
Though the military did at times demolish houses used by gunmen or arms smugglers, he said, no houses were set to be demolished that day.
The infantry major was identified only by his initials, S.R., according to military regulations.