American’s memory scorned

American’s memory scorned

By Joe Baker, Senior Editor

There was scant notice in the media of the incident. On March 16, a 23-year-old American peace activist, Rachel Corrie, was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer as she tried to prevent the destruction of Palestinian houses in the Gaza strip.

Two days later, members of the International Solidarity Movement, of which Corrie was a member, gathered at the place in the Rafah refugee camp where she died.

One member of the group, Joe Smith, from Kansas City, said about 100 people were there to place carnations and put up a small memorial when the first vehicle of the Israeli Army appeared.

“They started firing teargas and blowing smoke,” Smith said, “then they fired sound grenades. After a while, it got hectic so we sat down. Then the tank came over and shot in the air. It scared a lot of Palestinians,” he said, “especially the shooting made a lot of them run and the teargas freaked people out. But most of us stayed.”

The Guardian, a British newspaper, was one of the few to report the incident. It quoted a witness at the scene.

“People were laying carnations at the spot where Rachel was killed when a tank came and fired teargas right on them. Then a core group of the peace activists took an ISM cloth banner to the fence and pinned it up. The tank chased after them trying to stop them with teargas but the wind was against the army,” the witness said.

The newspaper said tensions were heightened when a convoy of vehicles, including the bulldozer that killed Corrie, passed by.

“I don’t think it was deliberate,” Smith said, “but it was pretty insensitive. I think they had been destroying some buildings elsewhere and had to pass by to get back to their base.”

The Israeli army says it is investigating the incident.

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