NGO Monitor Analysis (Vol. 1 No. 6) 31 March 2003
Amnesty calls for Washington to review US arms transfers to Israel
Twenty-three year-old Rachel Corrie, the Olympia, Washington native, died tragically after sitting down in front of a moving Israeli bulldozer that was demolishing a terrorist's home in Gaza. In response, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) condemned her death as a "killing," and called for the suspension of US transfers of military equipment to Israel. "US-made bulldozers have been 'weaponized' and their transfer to Israel must be suspended," said Christine Bustany, AIUSA's Advocacy Director for the Middle East. Corrie was a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), also known as the International Solidarity with the Palestinian People." According to its web site, ISM, even as it preaches nonviolent actions, fully endorses "the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle."
The Israel Defense Forces expressed sorrow over the incident and promised to continue its investigation, but noted that Corrie (who had been photographed in February burning an American flag in the Rafah refugee camp), and other protesters acted irresponsibly by "intentionally placing themselves in a combat zone." The statement continued: "It is important to stress that the windows of the bullet-proof bulldozer are very small and the visibility is very limited, and the bulldozer operator did not see the woman." David Bedein writing in the Hebrew language "Makor Rishon," confirmed this via interviews with other ISM members who were at the site, but ignored by AIUSA. Corrie's friend and eyewitness Joe Smith told Bedein how Corrie sat on a mound of dirt facing the IDF bulldozer making its way to the house it was about to demolish. "Rachel had two options," Smith said: "When the bulldozer started to dig in the dirt pile, the pile started to move, and she could have rolled sideways quickly or fallen backwards to avoid being hit. But Rachel leaned forward to climb to the top of the dirt pile. The bulldozer's digging drew her downward, and its driver could not see her anymore. So without lifting the scoop, he turned backward and she was already underneath the blade."
Meanwhile, novelist Naomi Ragen asked: "Rachel Corrie got herself killed. An American, she had come to Israel to 'defend' the Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. As an Israeli, how exactly am I supposed to feel about an American who comes to my country to defend those trying to kill my children? How am I supposed to feel about a girl who throws herself in front of my sons, my soldiers, who are risking their lives to uproot terrorism, forcing them to deal with naive foreigners who make their lives even more difficult and dangerous?"