The killing of American activist Rachel Corrie on March 16, 2003, brought home the horrific realities of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Fearing that a U.S. war in Iraq would spur an increase in Israeli violence, Rachel, a 23-year-old Olympia, WA native, chose to spend her winter quarter at Evergreen State College with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip located along the border with Egypt. The ISM is a nonviolent movement based in the West Bank and Gaza Strip which brings human rights activists from around the world to join in solidarity with Palestinians resisting the effects of the Israeli military occupation.
In spring of 2003, many ISM activists were concentrated in the Gaza Strip in response to the launching of a widespread home demolition campaign in Rafah. Claiming that the Egyptian border city served as a conduit for interstate weapons smuggling, Israel began destroying hundreds of homes to clear a “seam zone” along the border. On March 16, 2003, convinced that the destruction of the homes of innocent people could never be justified, Rachel stood nonviolently between Dr. Samir Masri’s family home and a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer. Rachel wore a bright orange coat and pleaded through a megaphone for the soldiers to halt the demolition. The bulldozer did not stop, but instead drove over Rachel, crushing her body to death beneath its blade and wheels. [read]