Washington, DC— Last Week, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), CODEPINK, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation delivered to the U.S. Department of State more than 17,000 signatures and an open letter signed by over 50 U.S. organizations asking the State Department to investigate the death of Rachel Corrie and each case involving the death or serious injury of an American citizen by the Israeli military since 2001. The groups also met with State Department officials to discuss the need for accountability in the deaths of human rights defenders like Corrie, a need made more urgent by this week’s deadly attacks by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.
Said Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie, “We greatly appreciate the efforts of all who have carried this message today to the Department of State about the need for accountability in all cases of human rights observers harmed by the Israeli military. Lack of such accountability has only contributed to the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military and made not only human rights activists, but also Palestinians and Israelis, less safe.”
Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in March 16, 2003, as she protested the demolition of Palestinian homes in Rafah, Gaza. She was 23 years old. Since 2001, a number of other cases have been reported involving the death or serious injury of American human rights defenders in Palestine caused by the Israeli military.
The State Department declined to act on previous calls for an investigation into Corrie’s death, citing a civil trial in Israel brought by the Corrie family against the Israeli military. In August 2012, however, that case concluded when the presiding judge absolved the State of Israel of any liability and ruling that Corrie’s death was “an accident she brought upon herself.” U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro called Israel’s investigation into the case unsatisfactory and lacking in transparency.
In recent days the Israeli military launched a new major military operation on Gaza. The attack has left 24 dead, including an 11-month-old infant and a woman pregnant with twins, and 270 wounded since Wednesday.
Said CCR’s Laura Raymond, “Defending human rights in Gaza should not come at the risk of death. Now more than ever we need human rights defenders on the ground to be able to carry out their work without fearing mortal danger.”
Said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, “As American citizens, we are horrified that our taxpayer dollars are funding the military equipment used by Israel to demolish Palestinian homes, like the one Rachel Corrie died defending, and the destruction that is being wrought upon Gaza at this very moment. We call upon the State Department to condemn these unjust and inhumane actions, instead of continuing to let Israel act with impunity.”
Said Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign, “Israel’s ongoing attacks against and illegal siege of the Gaza Strip necessitate an end to Israeli impunity for human rights abuses of Palestinians and human rights defenders acting in solidarity with Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal military occupation.”
Said Nabil Mohamad from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, “Rachel’s case is an example of the lack of accountability for Israel’s killing of Palestinians and non-Palestinians alike. American citizens and non-violent activists have been, and will continue, to be killed by Israeli forces unless Israel is held responsible. We call upon the U.S. government to launch an independent investigation led by the Department of State and Department of Justice to bring justice and prevent further loss of life.”