Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 27 May 2014/27 Rajab 1435
In just the six weeks this peace activist spent in Gaza all she saw was a junction of political, social and economic repression endured by the Palestinians. That was back in 2003. The now-late Ariel Sharon ran Israel and, across the Atlantic, George Bush ruled the United States. Eleven years later, things have descended to new lows in both Gaza and the West Bank. Pain and subjugation still define the Palestinian struggle, in the diaspora and at home.
During this 11-year-period, all the family of Rachel Corrie – an activist who belonged to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) – wanted to see was justice. None of this has been served. This human rights activist, who at the time of her murder was in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza, was bulldozed to death by an Israeli military-operated Caterpillar. An Israeli court ruled that the state (or military) was not at fault for this ISM activist’s death. Instead, in making a ruling, Haifa district court Judge Oded Gershon blamed the young Rachel for her death since she did not do what a “thinking person” would have done under the circumstances.
What would that be? As it had happened every few days, that would been standing by and watching the Israeli army demolishing Palestinian homes. Without even trying to offer a lousy excuse to this end but in a bid to cover up for the army’s shamefully barbaric murder, the judge turned around and blamed the youth for shielding terrorists but claimed that the driver of the Caterpillar bulldozer did not see her – faulty evidence he nevertheless accepted at face value.
The Corrie family feels, as it has felt since 2003, that the case was not “thoroughly, credibly and transparently” probed. That is why the family, regardless of a huge legal and travel financial bill, is determined to pursue this. Washington is not backing the Corrie family despite ex-president Bush’s previous apparent interest in the matter.
Going back to 2003, what exactly did Rachel Corrie see while in Gaza? “(Certainly) the most difficult situation I’ve ever seen. In the time that I’ve been here children have been shot and killed,” she said just after six weeks of her stay in Gaza or “prison camp” as the UK puts it. Israeli army demolished Palestinian houses “every few days, if not every day,” she observed. The same military, she added in a clip that was played on Sabahul Khair, bulldozed the largest wells that in turn destroyed over half Rafah’s water supply. In an interview preceding her crushing by the Caterpillar, this youngster told the world how Israel choked Gaza. “People are economically devastated because of the closure of the border in (Egypt) and the extreme control of the Gaza economy by Israel. I came to look at the aftermath of the place where 25 green houses have been demolished.”
Soon thereafter she was silenced by the rather huge Caterpillar that was also used to demolish the same houses that left Gaza civilians homeless and displaced amid the psychological violence. Palestinians and peace-loving Israelis, who oppose Zionist policies, as well as many global activists were collectively disgusted and called for justice. The Corrie family draws some strength from the knowledge that the world is behind it.
“(The Israeli) courtroom was packed, full of supporters for our family – that was extremely helpful and also a lot of media. We’re grateful that the case, after all these years, continues to get interest,” Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, told Cii after yet another court session in Jerusalem. “We had a verdict from the district court in August of 2012 from a single judge. There are no juries here in Israel so a single judge heard the case. There were 15 days of testimony spread over a year and a half, 23 witnesses and yet at the end of it that judge found that the only person that had responsibility was Rachel herself.”
The judge found “completely for the state”, moaned Corrie snr who traveled from their US home with her family (including Rachel’s father and sister) for the hearing. “We feel that he ignored important evidence, that his judgment about how the law applied were not accurate.” The lawsuit is bigger than Rachel and should help Israel refrain from targeting the defenceless, she said. “The Supreme Court has an opportunity to take … the country to a safer place by insisting that there is respect for civilians in these places, human rights observers (and defenders), journalists and the civilians who are living in these areas. So I would hope for a decision that reinforces that civilians must be protected and I think if we see that coming (out of) this court that would also provide some accountability for what happened to Rachel.”
The Corries are sad that its lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, had limited material to take to the Supreme Court since, in a convoluted way, in Israel is that facts are established at district level or, in this case, by Haifa’s Judge Gershon. “(That) is really frustrating because he’s (the only individual who) chooses how to interpret all the evidence that was presented and to, from his point of view, determine what the facts of the situation were,” said Rachel’s mother in a telephonic interview. “I frankly feel that he didn’t do a good job of that.”
The Corries take solace from the fact that at the Supreme Court, there is a panel of three judges which appeared in tune, seemed to have read summaries and asked relevant questions. Rachel’s mother scoffed at Judge Gershon’s take that the Israeli army bore no blame as the Gaza murder was an act of war. “That flies in the face of… international humanitarian law. The state actually was arguing that Rachel was not covered by the humanitarian law because she was not one of the people living under occupation. She was in that area but she was the resident of the United Sates, so there are some very problematic things regarding whether this was an act of war and then what are the rights of civilians when we have conflicts?”
Mrs Corrie also said Sharon promised Bush that justice would be served. Strangely, Washington elected not to pursue the matter. It’s 11 years on and Bush’s successor, Barack Obama well into his second term, yet no end in sight. Sharon passed the baton to Ehud Olmert, then succeeded by Binyamin Netanyahu. A lot has happened globally but for the Corries, ISM, and human rights activists, no justice. “There are many people within the US government that deeply care about what happened to Rachel and they have been supportive of our family. This extends all the way to the White House,” said Cindy Corrie said, adding Washington should ensure that justice is realised.
Understanding how slowly the proverbial wheels move, it’s been more than a decade already, the ever-optimistic Corries, who have been to Israel many times since Rachel was bulldozed, seem patient. “There is no deadline… for the Supreme Court justices to provide their ruling. It can take months, it can take years,” Mrs Corrie told Cii as her family prepared to, once again, leave Jerusalem for Washington.
LISTEN to the Cii Radio interview with Rachel’s mother HERE
Arrest Warrants Issued for Former Israeli Military Chiefs Over Mavi Marmara Attack
Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News, 2014-05-27
The Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA), the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) and the Media Review Network (MRN) along with South African journalist Gadija Davids has welcomed the decision by the Turkish Criminal Court in Istanbul that ordered the arrest of four former Israeli military chiefs over the 2010 Mavi Marmara, Freedom Flotilla incident.
In a statement, Davids legal team said it had lodged her case domestically under the auspices of the South Africa’s adoption and ratification of the Rome Statute in terms of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002.
A decision regarding jurisdictional requirements and a decision to investigate was made in November 2012 jointly by the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (PCLU) of the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and South African Authorities SAPS Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation Unit (DIPCI).
“Davids case is dependant on international movement as the organs of state decision back in 2012 had opened the doors to mutual co-operation and assistance,” said Davids lawyer, Attorney Ziyaad Patel.
The Turkish court will now request Interpol to issue international arrest warrants for the four men.
The arrest warrants have been issued for the former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, IAF intelligence chief Avishai Levi and naval forces commander Eliezer Marom.
All of the four Israeli commanders were invited to submit to the jurisdiction of the court and present their defence to the indictment levelled against them.
The purpose of the warrants of the arrest with the assistance of Interpol aims to achieve this purpose of securing the accused at the court to answer the indictment.
Patel added the purpose of the Freedom Flotilla was to break Israel’s blockade since Operation Cast lead.
“The Mavi Marmara was unlawfully attacked in international waters on 31 May 2010. At least 10 passengers were killed.”
Uğur Süleyman Söylemez, who was wounded in the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara was left in a coma for four years passed away on 25th May 2014 at the age of 51.
The Flotilla passengers were kidnapped, their personal belongings stolen, the humanitarian cargo pirated by the Israeli Navy when the Flotilla was redirected and ordered to dock at the Port of Ashdod
From the testimony heard in the Turkish Courts many passengers were physically assaulted, tortured and inhumanely treated.
“This constitutes crimes against humanity. These egregious offences are all punishable under international law,” said Patel