Rachel Corrie died on this date in 2003 when she was crushed by demolition debris pushed onto her by an Israeli military bulldozer which she believed was sent to destroy a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip’s Rafah area. Corrie (not Jewish), 23, was an American active with the Palestinian-led International Solidarity Movement and had been serving as a nonviolent “human shield” in Gaza for nearly two months, in a zone where the Israeli army was seeking to destroy smuggling tunnels and guerrilla hideouts. The Israeli government considers her death accidental — ”I scooped up some earth, I couldn’t see anything,” the driver told Israeli TV — but some witnesses insist that Corrie was visible to him in her fluorescent orange jacket. In 2010, Corrie’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Israel against the Israeli Defense Ministry. In 2012, District Court Judge Oded Gershon dismissed the suit in a 62-page verdict, ruling the death a “regrettable accident.” Following appeal, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the ruling in 2015. Corrie’s life, death, and beliefs have been memorialized on stage (My Name is Rachel Corrie), in more than 30 songs (listen to Billy Bragg’s “The Lonesome Death of Rachel Corrie” below), and in various documentary films.
“. . . Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border . . . It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids. . . . 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 . . .” —Rachel Corrie email to friends and family