Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist working with the International
Solidarity Movement, was killed as she attempted to stop Israeli
bulldozers from destroying Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip.
Rachel Corrie, Family
Statement and Email Excerpts (from the International Solidarity
March 16, 2003
Cindy Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie
We are now
in a period of grieving and still finding out the details behind
the death of Rachel in the Gaza Strip. We have raised all our
children to appreciate the beauty of the global community and
family and are proud that Rachel was able to live her convictions.
Rachel was filled with love and a sense of duty to her fellow
man, wherever they lived. And, she gave her life trying to protect
those that are unable to protect themselves. Rachel wrote to us
from the Gaza Strip and we would like to release to the media
her experience in her own words at this time. Thank you.
from an e-mail from Rachel Corrie to her family on February 7,
have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still
have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult
for me to think about what's going on here when I sit down to
write back to the United States--something about the virtual portal
into luxury. I don't know if many of the children here have ever
existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers
of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons.
I think, although I'm not entirely sure, that even the smallest
of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere.
An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days
before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to
me, "Ali"--or point at the posters of him on the walls.
The children also love to get me to practice my limited Arabic
by asking me "Kaif Sharon?" "Kaif Bush?" and
they laugh when I say "Bush Majnoon" "Sharon Majnoon"
back in my limited Arabic. (How is Sharon? How is Bush? Bush is
crazy. Sharon is crazy.) Of course this isn't quite what I believe,
and some of the adults who have the English correct me: Bush mish
Majnoon... Bush is a businessman. Today I tried to learn to say
"Bush is a tool", but I don't think it translated quite
right. But anyway, there are eight-year-olds here much more aware
of the workings of the global power structure than I was just
a few years ago--at least regarding Israel.
I think about the fact that no amount of reading, attendance at
conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have
prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't
imagine it unless you see it, and even then you are always well
aware that your experience is not at all the reality: what with
the difficulties the Israeli Army would face if they shot an unarmed
US citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when
the army destroys wells, and, of course, the fact that I have
the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving
in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of
a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to
go see the ocean. Ostensibly it is still quite difficult for me
to be held for months or years on end without a trial (this because
I am a white US citizen, as opposed to so many others). When I
leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there
will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting half way between Mud
Bay and downtown Olympia at a checkpoint-a soldier with the power
to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can
get home again when I'm done. So, if I feel outrage at arriving
and entering briefly and incompletely into the world in which
these children exist, I wonder conversely about how it would be
for them to arrive in my world.
that children in the United States don't usually have their parents
shot and they know they sometimes get to see the ocean. But once
you have seen the ocean and lived in a silent place, where water
is taken for granted and not stolen in the night by bulldozers,
and once you have spent an evening when you haven't wondered if
the walls of your home might suddenly fall inward waking you from
your sleep, and once you've met people who have never lost anyone--
once you have experienced the reality of a world that isn't surrounded
by murderous towers, tanks, armed "settlements" and
now a giant metal wall, I wonder if you can forgive the world
for all the years of your childhood spent existing--just existing--in
resistance to the constant stranglehold of the world's fourth
largest military--backed by the world's only superpower--in it's
attempt to erase you from your home. That is something I wonder
about these children. I wonder what would happen if they really
As an afterthought
to all this rambling, I am in Rafah, a city of about 140,000 people,
approximately 60 percent of whom are refugees--many of whom are
twice or three times refugees. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but
most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people
who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine--now
Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt.
Currently, the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high
wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans
land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes
have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular
Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially
destroyed is greater.
Today as I
walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers
called to me from the other side of the border, "Go! Go!"
because a tank was coming. Followed by waving and "what's
your name?". There is something disturbing about this friendly
curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are
all kids curious about other kids: Egyptian kids shouting at strange
women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot
from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what's
going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners.
Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously, occasionally shouting--
and also occasionally waving--many forced to be here, many just
aggressive, shooting into the houses as we wander away.
to the constant presence of tanks along the border and in the
western region between Rafah and settlements along the coast,
there are more IDF towers here than I can count--along the horizon,at
the end of streets. Some just army green metal. Others these strange
spiral staircases draped in some kind of netting to make the activity
within anonymous. Some hidden,just beneath the horizon of buildings.
A new one went up the other day in the time it took us to do laundry
and to cross town twice to hang banners. Despite the fact that
some of the areas nearest the border are the original Rafah with
families who have lived on this land for at least a century, only
the 1948 camps in the center of the city are Palestinian controlled
areas under Oslo. But as far as I can tell, there are few if any
places that are not within the sights of some tower or another.
Certainly there is no place invulnerable to apache helicopters
or to the cameras of invisible drones we hear buzzing over the
city for hours at a time.
having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but
I hear an escalation of war on Iraq is inevitable. There is a
great deal of concern here about the "reoccupation of Gaza."
Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents, but I think the
fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here,
instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after
some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the
communities. If people aren't already thinking about the consequences
of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope they
I also hope
you'll come here. We've been wavering between five and six internationals.
The neighborhoods that have asked us for some form of presence
are Yibna, Tel El Sultan, Hi Salam, Brazil, Block J, Zorob, and
Block O. There is also need for constant night-time presence at
a well on the outskirts of Rafah since the Israeli army destroyed
the two largest wells. According to the municipal water office
the wells destroyed last week provided half of Rafah's water supply.
Many of the communities have requested internationals to be present
at night to attempt to shield houses from further demolition.
After about ten p.m. it is very difficult to move at night because
the Israeli army treats anyone in the streets as resistance and
shoots at them. So clearly we are too few.
to believe that my home, Olympia, could gain a lot and offer a
lot by deciding to make a commitment to Rafah in the form of a
sister-community relationship. Some teachers and children's groups
have expressed interest in e-mail exchanges, but this is only
the tip of the iceberg of solidarity work that might be done.
Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need
to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices
heard directly in the US, rather than through the filter of well-meaning
internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from
what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability
of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against
the news I've been getting from friends in the US. I just read
a report back from a friend who organized a peace group in Shelton,
Washington, and was able to be part of a delegation to the large
January 18th protest in Washington DC. People here watch the media,
and they told me again today that there have been large protests
in the United States and "problems for the government"
in the UK. So thanks for allowing me to not feel like a complete
polyanna when I tentatively tell people here that many people
in the United States do not support the policies of our government,
and that we are learning from global examples how to resist.