Kalimat di atas adalah kutipan dari sebuah surat yang dikirimkan oleh seorang anak kepada orang tuanya saat berada di Jalur Gaza, Palestina. Tidak lama setelah mengirim surat, dia kemudian tewas dilindas oleh Buldozer tentara Israel yang menggusur sebuah rumah.
Anak itu bernama Rachel Corrie. Namanya mungkin terdengar asing buat kita yang berada di Indonesia. Namun bagi mereka yang berada di Palestina, khususnya di Jalur Gaza namanya akan selalu dikenang sebagai martir kemanusiaan. Dia juga yang memberikan bukti bahwa solidaritas tidak mengenal batas negara, agama, warna kulit, ideologi dan suku.
Dia lahir di sebuah kota yang tenang Olympia, Washington, Amerika Serikat pada 10 April 1979. Tidak seperti anak biasanya, sejak kecil dia sudah aktif dalam berbagai kegiatan kemanusiaan. Ia sudah meneliti tentang kemiskinan sejak kelas lima sekolah dasar. Hasil penelitiannya tersebut masuk ke dalam laporan UNICEF dalam World’s Children 1989. Saat berusian 13 tahun, dia sempat menuliskan kalimat yang menyentuh “Kumau mengubah dunia. Ku tak ingin gunakan obat-obatan. Bisa saja kutenggak alkohol sebelum cukup usia, tapi aku tak pernah merencanakannya. Kupercaya, jati diri di dapat melalui proses, bukan melalui narkoba.”
Dia gadis cantik, muda, energik dan mempesona. Lahir dan besar di tengah keluarga Kristen taat, di Olympia, Washington, Amerika Serikat. Dia perempuan pecinta Yesus. Pernah juga menegaskan sebagai pengagum Budha. Lalu, beberapa hari sebelum kematiannya, sebuah Koran harian di Inggris memajang fotonya yang berjilbab di kolom Head line; ketika pertengahan Februari 2003, dia dan pegiat kemanusiaan anti-penjajahan berdemonstrasi di Tepi Barat, lalu di jalur Gaza Palestina, menentang pemugaran paksa rumah-rumah penduduk Palestina oleh militer Israel.
Rachel Corrie: aktivis-aktivis gereja berbangga karena Rachel lahir sebagai Kristiani yang konsisten berjuang sejak Olympia, Rusia, hingga Palestina. Orang-orang Yahudi menjadikannya sebagai penyambung lidah mereka, bahwa mereka tak setuju dengan pendirian rezim Zionis, Israel. Kaum Muslim, terutama warga Tepi Barat, Palestina, menegaskan bahwa Rachel Corrie belajar bahasa Arab, belajar membaca al-Quran sebelum dilindas Buldozer Israel dan mempersembahkan jiwanya untuk tegaknya keadilan.
Sampai saat ini, belum ada tindakan yang jelas dari pemerintah Israel untuk menyelidiki kasus ini. ISM dan Amnesty International terus menekan dunia Internasioanl agara meminta pertanggung-jawaban Israel. Mereka juga menuding bahwa pemerintah Amerika Serikat juga berperan dalam kasus ini. Catepillar Inc, sebagai produsen alat berat yang digunakan oleh tentara Israel dalam melakukan penggusuran akhirnya di gugat oleh kelurga Corrie dan beberapa warga Palestina yang menjadi korban penggusuran.
Rachel Corrie, A U.S. Citizen, Murdered With A Bulldozer By Israeli Soldiers
Her killing should be a message to President Bush, who is "providing Israel with tanks and bulldozers, and now they killed one of his own people," said Mansour Abed Allah, 29, a Palestinian human rights worker who witnessed Corrie's death.
Above: U.S. citizen Rachel Corrie speaks Sunday, March 16, 2003, through a megaphone to an Israeli army bulldozer moments before she was crushed by it.
Other peace activists tend to Rachel after being run over by the Israeli bulldozer driver, Rafah, Occupied Gaza, 16 March 2003.
Above: Rachel Corrie bleeding from her nose and her mouth, is helped by colleagues in Rafah, Southern Gaza Strip March 16, 2003.
Rachel in Najjar hospital, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Ha'aretz newspaper reported that Dr. Ali Musa, a doctor at Al-Najjar, stated that the cause of death was "skull and chest fractures".
An Israeli military bulldozer murdered Corey on Sunday as she was protesting the demolition of a house owned by Palestinian medical officials.
'The bulldozer put sand on her and kept crushing her,' said Nicholas Dure, a fellow member of the International Solidarity Campaign to Protect the Palestinian People protest group.
"The American girl was lying in front of the bulldozer when the bulldozer took sand and put it over her," Ali al-Shaar, a witness to the incident, told Reuters on Sunday.
An Israeli military official blamed Corey, pictured left, for the incident stating that she had "acted irresponsibly by placing herself in front of the bulldozer". He further stated there was limited visibility, especially on the ground immediately in front of the vehicle, from the windows of the armored bulldozers used by the army.
However, as the picture above shows, the driver of the bull dozer could see Rachel Corrie very well before he murdered her.
Joseph Smith, 20, a student and a fellow activist from Missouri, said: “She was sitting in the path of the bulldozer. The bulldozer saw her and ran over her. She ended up completely underneath it. He absolutely knew she was there.”
Greg Schnabel, 28, from Chicago said: "Rachel was alone in front of the house as we were trying to get them to stop," he said.
She waved for bulldozer to stop and waved. She fell down and the bulldozer kept going. We yelled 'stop, stop', and the bulldozer didn't stop at all."
"It had completely run over her and then it reversed and ran back over her," he said.
A member of the group, who described herself only as Alice from London, England, said she and Corrie were seated in front of houses belonging to their friends as the bulldozers approached.
Alice said they had been seated for three hours and the driver of the bulldozer must have seen them before driving over Rachel.
Standing in the path of an approaching military bulldozer, Corrie lost her footing as it drew close and was first hit by a massive load of sand and debris being pushed ahead by its blade, then struck by the blade itself, witnesses said.
"I saw her in front of the bulldozer, and suddenly she disappeared from view," said Palestinian physician Samir Masri, whose family had been playing host to a group of protesters that included Corrie. "I ran out to her and saw her bleeding face, her crushed skull. I tried to treat her, but everything was broken."
Nicholas Durie, aged 19, from Dundee, was one of four British and four American campaigners who tried to block two bulldozers destroying homes and farming infrastructure near an olive grove. "We were trying to frustrate their efforts by getting in front of the bulldozers," he told The Independent by telephone from the hospital. "One of the drivers saw Rachel and drove towards her. She didn't get out of the way, and he didn't stop.
"She was carried up with a heap of earth in the shovel of the bulldozer. The driver continued working. She slipped and fell and was run over by the bulldozer. The driver saw that she had fallen, but carried her along for another 16 feet. Only then did he back off."
In an e-mail message this month, Ms. Corrie described a Feb. 14 standoff in which members of her group "stood in the path of the bulldozers and were physically pushed with the shovel backwards, taking shelter in a house." She added that "the bulldozer then proceeded on its course, demolishing one side of the house" with the protesters still inside.
The Israeli troops "have shot over our heads, and shot near our feet — they have fired tear gas at us," said Michael Shaik, media coordinator for the group. "But we thought we had an understanding. We didn't think they would kill us."
After braving tear gas and gunfire, Rachel Corrie apparently climbed before the maw of an armored bulldozer, eyeball-to-eyeball with its driver in the volatile area near the Egyptian border.
"She was standing on top of the pile of earth, and she was wearing a fluorescent orange jacket. She was clearly visible," said Richard Purssell, 31, one of eight activists - four Americans and four Brits - from the peace group International Solidarity Movement, who spent the afternoon using their bodies to block the bulldozers.
"Then she slid down the pile of earth and the bulldozer kept going. She disappeared...and I heard her scream and then the bulldozer went straight over her body."
Purssell and other members of the group said Corrie was deliberately plowed over as the army was demolishing property.
Corrie was dead of massive head and chest injuries by the time she arrived at nearby Najar hospital in Rafah, said the hospital's director, Dr. Ali Moussa.
Rafah: Rachel Corrie Murdered by Israeli Army
At about 5.20 pm today, 16 March 2003, Rachel Corrie from Olympia in Washington State, USA died of her injuries in A-Najar Hospital in Rafah after
being deliberately run over by an Israeli military bulldozer.
Rachel had been working as an ISM activist in Rafah for seven weeks
when she was killed trying to prevent the demolition of Palestinian
homes and property in the Hi Salaam area of Rafah.
The confrontation between the ISM and the Israeli Army had been
under way for two hours when Rachel was run over. Rachel and the
other activists had clearly identified themselves as unarmed
international peace activists throughout the confrontation.
The Israeli Army are attempting to dishonour her memory by claiming
that Rachel was killed accidentally when she ran in front of the
bulldozer. Eye-witnesses to the murder insist that this is totally
untrue. Rachel was sitting in the path of the bulldozer as it
advanced towards her. When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn
aside she climbed up onto the mound of dirt and rubble being
gathered in front of it wearing a fluorescent jacket to look
directly at the driver who kept on advancing. The bulldozer
continued to advance so that she was pulled under the pile of dirt
and rubble. After she had disappeared from view the driver kept
advancing until the bulldozer was completely on top of her. The
driver did not lift the bulldozer blade and so she was crushed
beneath it. Then the driver backed off and the seven other ISM
activists taking part in the action rushed to dig out her body. An
ambulance rushed her to A-Najar hospital where she died.
Rachel joins 1,900 Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli
soldiers and settlers since September 2000,
Rachel had been staying in Palestinian homes threatened with illegal demolition, and today Rachel was standing with other non-violent international activists in front of a home scheduled for illegal demolition. According to witnesses, Rachel was run over twice by the Israeli military bulldozer in its process of demolishing the Palestinian home. Witnesses say that Rachel was clearly visible to the bulldozer driver, and was doing nothing to provoke an attack.
Excerpts from an e-mail from Rachel Corrie to her family on February 7, 2003.
I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what's going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States--something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don't know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I'm not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me, "Ali"--or point at the posters of him on the walls. The children also love to get me to practice my limited Arabic by asking me "Kaif Sharon?" "Kaif Bush?" and they laugh when I say "Bush Majnoon" "Sharon Majnoon" back in my limited Arabic. (How is Sharon? How is Bush? Bush is crazy. Sharon is crazy.) Of course this isn't quite what I believe, and some of the adults who have the English correct me: Bush mish Majnoon... Bush is a businessman. Today I tried to learn to say "Bush is a tool", but I don't think it translated quite right. But anyway, there are eight-year-olds here much more aware of the workings of the global power structure than I was just a few years ago--at least regarding Israel.
Nevertheless, I think about the fact that no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it, and even then you are always well aware that your experience is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli Army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and, of course, the fact that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean. Ostensibly it is still quite difficult for me to be held for months or years on end without a trial (this because I am a white US citizen, as opposed to so many others). When I leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting half way between Mud Bay and downtown Olympia at a checkpoint-a soldier with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I'm done. So, if I feel outrage at arriving and entering briefly and incompletely into the world in which these children exist, I wonder conversely about how it would be for them to arrive in my world.
They know that children in the United States don't usually have their parents shot and they know they sometimes get to see the ocean. But once you have seen the ocean and lived in a silent place, where water is taken for granted and not stolen in the night by bulldozers, and once you have spent an evening when you haven't wondered if the walls of your home might suddenly fall inward waking you from your sleep, and once you've met people who have never lost anyone-- once you have experienced the reality of a world that isn't surrounded by murderous towers, tanks, armed "settlements" and now a giant metal wall, I wonder if you can forgive the world for all the years of your childhood spent existing--just existing--in resistance to the constant stranglehold of the world's fourth largest military--backed by the world's only superpower--in it's attempt to erase you from your home. That is something I wonder about these children. I wonder what would happen if they really knew.
As an afterthought to all this rambling, I am in Rafah, a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60 percent of whom are refugees--many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine--now Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt. Currently, the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater.
Today as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, "Go! Go!" because a tank was coming. Followed by waving and "what's your name?". There is something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids: Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what's going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously, occasionally shouting-- and also occasionally waving--many forced to be here, many just aggressive, shooting into the houses as we wander away.
In addition to the constant presence of tanks along the border and in the western region between Rafah and settlements along the coast, there are more IDF towers here than I can count--along the horizon,at the end of streets. Some just army green metal. Others these strange spiral staircases draped in some kind of netting to make the activity within anonymous. Some hidden,just beneath the horizon of buildings. A new one went up the other day in the time it took us to do laundry and to cross town twice to hang banners. Despite the fact that some of the areas nearest the border are the original Rafah with families who have lived on this land for at least a century, only the 1948 camps in the center of the city are Palestinian controlled areas under Oslo. But as far as I can tell, there are few if any places that are not within the sights of some tower or another. Certainly there is no place invulnerable to apache helicopters or to the cameras of invisible drones we hear buzzing over the city for hours at a time.
I've been having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but I hear an escalation of war on Iraq is inevitable. There is a great deal of concern here about the "reoccupation of Gaza." Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents, but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here, instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren't already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope they will start.
I also hope you'll come here. We've been wavering between five and six internationals. The neighborhoods that have asked us for some form of presence are Yibna, Tel El Sultan, Hi Salam, Brazil, Block J, Zorob, and Block O. There is also need for constant night-time presence at a well on the outskirts of Rafah since the Israeli army destroyed the two largest wells. According to the municipal water office the wells destroyed last week provided half of Rafah's water supply. Many of the communities have requested internationals to be present at night to attempt to shield houses from further demolition. After about ten p.m. it is very difficult to move at night because the Israeli army treats anyone in the streets as resistance and shoots at them. So clearly we are too few.
I continue to believe that my home, Olympia, could gain a lot and offer a lot by deciding to make a commitment to Rafah in the form of a sister-community relationship. Some teachers and children's groups have expressed interest in e-mail exchanges, but this is only the tip of the iceberg of solidarity work that might be done. Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices heard directly in the US, rather than through the filter of well-meaning internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against all odds.
Thanks for the news I've been getting from friends in the US. I just read a report back from a friend who organized a peace group in Shelton, Washington, and was able to be part of a delegation to the large January 18th protest in Washington DC. People here watch the media, and they told me again today that there have been large protests in the United States and "problems for the government" in the UK. So thanks for allowing me to not feel like a complete polyanna when I tentatively tell people here that many people in the United States do not support the policies of our government, and that we are learning from global examples how to resist.
|Rachel Corrie, Nuha Sweidan and Israeli War Crimes|
(PalestineChronicle) - The Israeli bulldozer that ran over and killed American peace activist Rachel Corrie, 23, in the Gaza Strip today had killed before. A few weeks ago, on March 3, an Israeli bulldozer killed a nine-month pregnant Palestinian woman, Nuha Sweidan, while destroying the house next door in a dilapidated Gaza refugee camp. Palestinian witnesses said that Mrs. Sweidan, 33, bled to death under the rubble as she cradled her 18-month-old daughter. Her unborn baby also died.
Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidan probably never met, but they will forever be linked as victims of Israels 35-year occupation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
They are both victims of Israeli war crimes. The Geneva Conventions expressly prohibits attacks on civilian populations regardless of the motivation, even if in retaliation for attacks on its own civilians.
To attack civilian populations intentionally is a war crime.
Both Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidan were killed during military actions against a civilian population, in this case, during a house demolition.
Since June 2002, the Israeli army has destroyed more than 150 houses belonging to Palestinians allegedly involved in attacks, a policy human rights groups describe as collective punishment and which has drawn US criticism in the past.
This past month, Israel nearly set a record for killing Palestinians, mostly civilians, in a single month. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Israeli assaults killed 82 Palestinians, of them 50 in the Gaza Strip and 32 in the West Bank, wounding an additional 616 persons. Israeli soldiers also killed several Palestinian children and 3 medical staff as they sought to attend to wounded.
Now, they have killed an American peace activist. In this same period, only six Israelis were killed, all of them soldiers.
Why so many civilian casualties?
These killings are the product of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharons escalation of Israeli Army assaults on Palestinian population centers following his re-election on January 28.
Since that time, Israeli forces have largely focused their wrath on Gaza. They have conducted unprecedented armored military operations in Gaza city centers, pursued suspected militants deep into refugee camps and deployed bulldozers to destroy dozens of building and homes.
This latter type of operation led to Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidans deaths.
Israeli sympathizers may object that these assaults and civilians killings are justified in response to Palestinian suicide bombings but international law is clear that attacks on civilians are prohibited under any circumstance.
Palestinian suicide bombings are clearly war crimes, even though some Palestinians claim they are justified in response to Israeli massacres and the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. However, Israeli military assaults that systematically result in civilian deaths are also war crimes, regardless of their justification. Both are reprehensible and must be condemned.
Moreover, few independent observers accept that Israels assaults on Palestinian civilian centers in the past two months correlate as responses to suicide bombs.
These operations began nearly a month after the January 5 suicide bomb that killed over 20 Israelis in Tel Aviv. The only other suicide bomb this year came on March 5, well after the Israeli campaign in Gaza was underway.
Furthermore, in both cases the suicide bombers came from the West Bank, not Gaza.
The reality is that Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidan will also be forever linked as victims of the extremist Israeli leader Ariel Sharons relentless war on Palestinians on behalf of Israeli settlements and his vision of a Greater Israel that seeks total control of all of historic Palestine.
The escalating assaults on Gaza over the past month indicate that Ariel Sharon is preparing the way for an invasion and reconquest of the Gaza Strip to complement his reconquest of the West Bank last April.
With the West Bank now firmly under Israeli control, Gaza has become the sole remaining area of armed Palestinian resistance to Israel.
It stands in the way of Sharon imposing a settlement on the Palestinians that will assign them small, disconnected Bantustans surrounded by hundreds of Israeli settlements.
Ariel Sharon was the original architect of the massive expansion of settlements after 1978 and continues to be their main patron.
Sharon is well known for his cold, calculating, tactical acumen, both as a General and as a politician. He is also known as a ruthless fighter and has been accused of crimes against humanity for his role in the massacre of nearly a thousand Palestinian women, children and elderly people in Beirut in 1982.
He is well aware of the sympathy Israel has received in response to the brutal suicide bomb attacks over the past few years.
He knows that the world is focused on the impending war in Iraq.
Thus, he has calculated that the time is right to set in motion the reoccupation of Gaza, even if it provokes further suicide bombings because he can use them as a pretext for even larger actions.
Menachem Klein, an Israeli political scientist at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, outlined the logic of Sharons actions in a recent Christian Science Monitor article (13 Mar 2003).
"These raids can be a kind of rehearsal, with the idea to arrest someone, but also to see how to get in and out, what tactics to use. A rehearsal on live people. And the thinking is that if the world gets used to these short-term reoccupations, it will digest the long-term one."
Rachel Corrie, Nuha Sweidan, over a hundred Palestinians and scores of Israeli civilians are the victims of this live rehearsal.
It is true that Palestinian suicide bombers have helped contribute to this cycle of violence through their own vicious acts. I
Indeed, they have murdered women, children and innocent civilians as well.
However, this is not a symmetrical conflict. Israel dominates the lives and land of over 3 million Palestinians through massive military assaults, imprisonment of thousands, torture and systematic starvation policies that have lead to a major humanitarian crisis in many areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In fact, Rachel had been working with other members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to defend a newly dug water well from Israeli attempts to destroy it before she was killed.
Moreover, since his return to power two years ago, Ariel Sharon has systematically escalated Israeli military assaults and assassinations in search of a military solution, despite the waves of suicide bombings, in order to achieve a very clear set of political objectives.
At the top of the list has been the destruction of any base of Palestinian political and military resistance to Israeli settlements and permanent control of the land Israel occupied in 1967. Gaza is his last objective.
There is no "balance" in this conflict. It is time to call Israel into account for its war crimes and time to stop Ariel Sharon from imposing his violent dream of Greater Israel on Palestinians.
It is time to stop the needless deaths of Rachel Corrie, Nuha Sweidan and others, whether Palestinian or Israeli, or now, American.
Steve Niva is a Member of the Faculty, The Evergreen State College. He teaches international politics and Middle East studies. He met with Rachel Corrie before she left for Gaza in January and is deeply saddened by her tragic and unnecessary death.