Israel grants visas to witnesses in suit over Rachel Corrie death
U.S. pressures Israel into allowing witnesses to give testimony over 24-year-old activist killed in Gaza.
Under pressure from the United States, Israel is to grant visas to four activists from the International Solidarity Movement so they can testify in suit brought against the government by the family of Rachel Corrie, an activist killed by an IDF bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in March 2003.
Corrie, a U.S. citizen, was 24 when she was struck and killed by a bulldozer as she and others tried to stop Israel razing homes in Rafah by using their bodies as human shields.
The Interior Ministry informed the family's attorney, Hussein Abu Hussein, that the British and American witnesses, including a peace activist expelled from Israel in the past, would be allowed entry into to testify in the civil suit agisnt the Defense Ministry.
The case is due to open the Haifa District Court in two weeks.
However, the Defense Ministry blocked the family's request to allow Dr. Ahmed Abu Nakira from the Al-Najar Hospital in Rafah, who treated Corrie's injuries and later confirmed her death, to enter Israel.
A request by Abu Hussein to question the physician via video conference was also rejected because "it is difficult to identify the witness and present him with documents".
Ahead of the court deliberations the Corrie family contacted Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Human Rights Michael Posner, who visited Israel several weeks ago in connection with the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead.
The family told Haaretz yesterday that it is working with members of Congress and the State Department to pressure Israel so that a "thorough and transparent investigation" of the death of their daughter can be carried out, "as was promised to President Bush by Prime Minister Sharon in March 2003."
The family says that the issue has been brought to the attention of President Barack Obama. They also noted that Vice President Joe Biden, in his former capacity as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had also raised the issue.
In the damages suit filed by the Corrie family it is stated that no thorough and objective investigation was held into the death, which the family maintains occurred either because of intent or the bulldozer driver's negligence. The plaintiffs also maintain that the recording documenting the incident was deleted.