National Lawyers Guild
April 4, 2011
Haifa, April 2, 2011: The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Free Palestine Subcommittee has joined with other civil and human rights organizations around the world to send a legal observer to monitor the civil lawsuit brought by the family of peace activist Rachel Corrie against the State of Israel for Rachelís unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza on March 16, 2003.
The Evergreen college student was crushed to death by a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer while nonviolently attempting to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes.
"It has been eight years now and Rachelís family and all of us who are attending the trial in support have been waiting for an answer to the question of why the unit commander ordered the bulldozer driver to move forward directly over the location where Rachel stood yelling into a blowhorn," said Zaha Hassan, NLG legal observer from Portland, Oregon. "Justice demands that these questions be answered and that those responsible for her death be held to account," she continued.
The unit commander, known only as S.R., is scheduled to testify tomorrow in open court. The driver of the bulldozer, however, was permitted to conceal his identity during his testimony in November by sitting behind a screen. The bulldozer driverís testimony was riddled with inconsistencies and he claimed to not recall the day he ran over Rachel with the bulldozer he operated.
The lawsuit charges that Rachelís killing was intentional or, alternately, that the Israeli government was negligent for allowing Israeli soldiers and military commanders to act recklessly using an armored military bulldozer without due regard for the presence of unarmed, nonviolent civilians in Rafah. It also alleges that the Israeli military failed to take appropriate and necessary measures to protect Rachelís life, in violation of obligations under Israeli and international law.
The government of Israel argues that Rachelís killing took place in the course of armed conflict in a closed military zone and should be considered an "Act of War," and "Act of State," absolving the government and military of any responsibility.
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
Contact: Zaha Hassan, NLG Legal Observer, firstname.lastname@example.org
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