Sunday, 10 July 2011

Key witness in Rachel Corrie trial claims death was 'accident caused by her own negligence'

(pic: Rachel Corrie in from of the bulldozer)

AFP - HAIFA, Israel — A key witness in a civil case brought by the family of US activist Rachel Corrie, killed by an Israeli bulldozer during a demonstration in Gaza, said on Sunday that she had caused her own death.

Retired Colonel Pinhas Zuaretz, a former brigade commander in Gaza, said a military police investigation into the March 2003 incident found no fault with the behaviour of the bulldozer driver or the officers supervising him.

"Their operational behaviour was correct," he told the Haifa courtroom, as Corrie's parents Craig and Cindy listened intently through interpreters.

He said the massive, armoured D9 bulldozer was demolishing buildings from which shots had been fired at Israeli soldiers in a highly dangerous zone near the Gaza-Egypt border.

Zuaretz was giving evidence on the last day of hearings in the action brought by the Corries, who are dissatisfied with the outcome of the Israeli military investigation.

They are suing the state of Israel and the defence ministry for one dollar plus costs.

The retired colonel said the bulldozer operator did not see Corrie because she was behind a pile of rubble, and that a concrete pillar among the debris had struck and killed her.

"She was killed in an accident caused by her own negligence," he said. "Anyone who runs toward the fire either has very deep ideology or is stupid."

Activists who witnessed the 23-year-old's death said she and others were acting as human shields to prevent a house demolition in the Gaza border town of Rafah for more than two hours and were clearly visible to the bulldozer driver.

Cindy Corrie told AFP that the military investigation was wound up despite inconsistencies in witness testimony.

"The two people inside the bulldozer disagree about where her body was placed after the incident happened," she said. "That was never reconciled yet they closed their investigation and found no fault."

Craig Corrie said that former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon had promised then US president George W. Bush "a thorough, credible and transparent investigation."

"It's still the opinion of our government as well as our family that that has never happened," he said. "I think this trial has brought forward a number of cases where we can show explicitly how poor that investigation was."

Judge Oded Gershon said he would deliver his verdict next April. AFP

Israel starts deporting activists after supposed 'provocation' of trying to enter Palestine

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israel started sending home pro-Palestinian activists it detained while trying to enter the country last week, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that his government would block similar "provocations" in the future.

According to an interior ministry official, 36 of the detained activists were being taken to Ben Gurion airport on Sunday to board a flight to Europe.

The detainees were part of the 118 pro-Palestinian activists seized while attempting to enter Israel at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport on Friday. Israel also convinced airlines to prevent another 200 from boarding Israel-bound planes from Europe.

A spokeswoman for Israel's interior ministry, Sabin Hadad, said earlier that the passengers were being detained in an Israeli jail and were expected to be deported. more

Video: AJE report on the Dignité leaving Crete yesterday, bound for Gaza

An aid ship headed for Gaza has left the Greek island of Crete.

The Dignité has 10 activists on board and is part of the 10-boat Freedom Flotilla that has tried to leave Greek waters for Gaza over the past week.

Coast Guards say the Dignite's papers are all in order and the destination is the island of Rhodes. But the activists on board have different ideas.

Woman injured as soldiers open fire on Palestinian houses on Gaza's northern border

Palestinian medical sources reported on Saturday at night that Israeli soldiers, based near the northern Gaza border, opened automatic fire at a number of Palestinian homes wounding a young Palestinian woman and inflicting damage to property.

Adham Abu Salmiyya, spokesperson of the Higher Committee of Medical Emergency Services in Gaza, reported that soldiers based near the border of Beit Lahia, opened random fire at nearby homes.

Abu Salmiyya added that the young woman was hit by bullet fragments in different parts of her body. Medics rushed to the scene and evacuated the woman to a nearby hospital. more

Airstrike on northern Gaza said to be retaliation for rocket fire - no casualties reported

(Maan Images)

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Israeli fighter jets bombarded a target in the northern Gaza Strip early Sunday morning.

The Israeli army said the target was hit accurately. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said a concrete factory in the Tuffah neighborhood east of Gaza city was bombarded and destroyed. No injuries were reported.

Military sources said the airstrike came in response to three homemade projectiles fired from Gaza at Israeli targets. Israeli media said two projectiles landed in an open area near Ashkelon, and the third inside Gaza. Maan