Attacks on International Peace Workers
Congressional Representative Calls for Investigation into Killing of Rachel Corrie
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Adam Smith will hand-deliver a letter to Israel’s prime minister from the family of an Evergreen State College student who was killed almost two years ago as she tried to block an Israeli bulldozer from demolishing a home in a Palestinian refugee camp.
Craig and Cindy Corrie of Olympia, want the Israelis to agree to an independent investigation into the death of their daughter, Rachel. The Israelis have said the bulldozer’s driver didn’t see Rachel Corrie, and they have not charged anyone in her death.
The Corries, 20 months after their 23-year-old daughter died, remain skeptical and want an investigation headed by the FBI or another U.S. government agency.
“What’s important is that we search for the truth and currently we don’t have that,” Cindy Corrie said Friday in a telephone interview.
“We don’t want to prejudge anything,” said Craig Corrie. “We just want an independent investigation.”
Smith, a Tacoma Democrat who is on a five-day trip to Israel and Palestinian territories, said he will meet Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
“We need a full investigation,” Smith said in a telephone interview Friday from Jerusalem. “The Corries asked me to deliver this letter and I will.”
Shortly after the death of their daughter, the Corries said Sharon promised President Bush a “thorough, credible and transparent” investigation – a promise they say has been broken.
The Corries have met several times with Israeli officials, both in the United States and Israel, and say they have never received a satisfactory explanation of what happened to their daughter in March 2003 as she protested the looming destruction of a home owned by a Palestinian pharmacist and his family at the Rafah refugee camp along the Gaza-Egyptian border.
Rachel Corrie was a member of a pro-Palestinian group called International Solidarity Movement. Eyewitnesses have told the Corries that she was visible to the bulldozer’s driver and, at one point, poked her head over the top of the blade to make sure she was seen. The Israelis were tearing down houses along the border to build a steel wall.
Craig Corrie said it was hard to believe it was an accident.
“I was a combat engineer in Vietnam,” he said. “I was in charge of bulldozers. It was our duty to know what was in front of the blade.”
The Corries said the Israeli report on the incident has never been publicly released, though they have seen a copy of it and believe it is filled with “inconsistencies.”
A member of both the Armed Services and International Relations committees, Smith was traveling with three Republican senators. In addition to meeting with Sharon, the delegation was to meet with top officials of the Palestinian Authority, serve as unofficial observers to the Palestinian elections on Sunday and look at a controversial wall the Israelis are building to keep out terrorists.
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