World News

Family of slain U.S. activist sues Israel

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The family of an American killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza will launch a damages case on Wednesday, stoking controversy over the treatment of pro-Palestinian protesters and angering Israelis frustrated by international criticism.

The parents of Rachel Corrie stand in front of her picture during a rally in the West Bank city of Nablus to mark the fifth anniversary of her death March 20, 2008. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini

Rachel Corrie was one of several foreign activists killed in confrontations with Israel in occupied territory in the past decade. Her family is suing for $324,000 in the case, being heard by a court in the city of Haifa.

The Israeli army says Corrie, 23, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, was fatally struck by a concrete slab on March 17, 2003, as a bulldozer cleared a militant hideout in the Gaza area.

Corrie’s family, citing witness accounts, has charged the Israeli driver must have spotted her before moving the blade in her direction.

“As we approach the seven-year anniversary of Rachel’s killing, my family and I are still searching for justice,” Cindy Corrie, the victim’s mother, said in a statement.

Two former activists in Gaza are to testify in the case.

Lieutenant-Colonel Avital Leibovich, an Israeli army spokeswoman, told Reuters in an interview that “the crew inside the bulldozer did not see her nor hear her,” and that tear gas and stun grenades had been fired to warn protesters to flee.

Israelis have shown little sympathy for Corrie, whose death occurred at the height of a Palestinian uprising in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank in which thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis were killed.

Revival of her case was expected to stoke anger in a nation still reeling from a scathing United Nations report alleging both the Israeli army and Palestinian militants committed war crimes during the 2008-9 Israel-Gaza conflict.

Steven Plaut, an Israeli from Haifa, charged in a column for the Jewish Press newspaper that Corrie’s parents were a “two-person anti-Israel propaganda SWAT team” who supported Israel’s enemies.