ISM Update: Gaza Solidarity Denied...
1. Gaza-Solidarity denied 2. From Rafah-One year later by Dr. Samir 3. More events Commemorating Rachel’s life
1. Gaza-Solidarity denied
Since May 2003 all international tourists and activists have been systematically denied entry to the Gaza strip by the Israeli authorities. The Gaza airport has been destroyed since the first year of the current Intifada. The sea, air and borders are all under Israeli control and visitors are not allowed.
The only internationals granted entry are those with documentation of working for official international organizations recognized by Israel and even they face difficulty. The few approved employees or journalists that are granted access were required to sign a waver stating that Israel is not responsible for their safety and that they are in no way associated with ISM Thus Israel has succeeded in canceling visiting privileges in the world’s largest open air prison, called Gaza, effectively isolating the place with the highest population density in the world. The Israeli Occupation Forces prevent the world from seeing the ongoing war crimes committed against Palestinians and their land.
ISM condemns the Israeli Occupation Forces’ policy of closure of the Gaza Strip and the denial of access for solidarity activists into the Palestinian Occupied Territory.
Since April 2002, ISM has documented 130 cases of international solidarity activists denied access to the occupied territories by the Israeli authorities. This number is clearly the tip of the iceberg; ISM estimates the number of individuals denied entry to be thousands. Of those who have managed to enter since May 2003 hundreds have been denied entrance into Gaza. 2.One Year Later: No one sees and no one hears SubTitle 3/22/2004 Dr. Samir, Rafah
2.One Year Later: No one sees and no one hears 3/22/2004 Dr. Samir, Rafah
My family and I will never forget March 16, 2003, the day we lost our dear friend Rachel Corrie. A volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement(ISM), Rachel lived with us in Rafah as if she were a member of our family.
She helped us even when we did not need help. She tried to bring optimism and happiness into our lives. Every morning she would leave with her friends to confront the bulldozers of occupation and to defend houses from their destructive reach. Every evening she would return to us, tired, after a hard day of work.
On the day of her murder, I was returning from work when I saw her and her friends trying to prevent the bulldozers from demolishing the homes adjacent to mine. Then, the bulldozers were approaching my home, and I was surprised to see Rachel standing in front of the bulldozers, with all her courage, strength, and determination. Small as she was, she stood like a mountain, steadfast before those giant machines.
Flanked by two tanks, the bulldozer came closer and closer to my home, and throughout all this, Rachel stood there with a megaphone in her hand repeating loudly that she was not going to move. The driver could see her clearly and he continued to approach the house.
She spoke louder and louder:"Stop! Stop! Don't Move!"
She identified herself as a member of the ISM, but to no avail. She started to scream at the top of her lungs, but the driver continued to approach her. I could see her clearly when the bulldozer had nearly reached her. It hurled a pile of sand at her, and she lost her balance and fell.
That is when I lost sight of her. She was no more than 10 meters from me.
Then, I found myself screaming, feeling that I had lost her, in the way we had lost so many Palestinians before her. I called the paramedics to send an ambulance immediately. I opened the ambulance doors as quickly as I could and took out the First Aid kit and ran towards Rachel to try and save her. I found her ISM friends gathered around her, and together we removed the sand from on top of her and lifted her into the ambulance to rush her to the hospital. I knew from the first instance that she was in critical condition.
I was with her friends, Alice and Tom, when a seven member medical team finally gave up trying to revive her.
Now there are no internationals with us in Rafah, this isolated town on the Egyptian border. The last ones left to renew their visas, intending to return, but the Israeli army prevented their re-entry into Gaza. The hardships my family and I experience continue and have, in fact, worsened ince the internationals left. We lost our house soon afterwards, as if the Israeli army was just waiting for the ISM to leave.
As for Rachel and the message she delivered to us and to the world, she was in pursuit of the truth. She dedicated her life to that. She conveyed the truth as she saw it, reporting the crimes of the Israeli army against innocent Palestinian civilians. The hands of the occupation killed her in cold blood as if to say to us, "I will deny you your spoken voice." I don't feel safe as long as our voice does not reach the outside world.
I call on my ISM friends to return to us. I ask you to come back because Rafah needs you. Tanks roll in and out with total ease, killing and destroying at will. And, without you, no one sees and no one hears.
There is not a day when my family and I don't think of Rachel. I told her family when they came to visit us that Rachel was a loss to my family, a loss to the whole Palestinian people, just as she was to them. Everyone lost her.
We still see that bulldozer that took her away from us.
As much as I speak about her, I still cannot do her justice.
3.More events commemorating Rachel’s life.
Rafah Friends of Rachel from Rafah held a memorial at the site where she was killed. They laid flowers and photographs and spoke in tribute.
California Seventy five people demonstrated at a Caterpillar dealership in memory or Rachel. Caterpillar manufactures the bulldozers which killed Rachel and continue to kill Palestinians and destroy their homes.
Los Angeles Today, March 17th, Women in Black will hold a commemorative event and film screening of the Killing Zone. Date and Time: Thursday, March 17th, 7:00 - 9:00 pm Venue: Liberty Hill Foundation, 2121 Cloverfield Boulevard, Suite 113 Santa Monica, CA 90404 (NE corner Cloverfield & Pico - Free parking on Site).
For songs written in Rachel’s memory, and more related to the second anniversary of her death, see http://www.palsolidarity.org