The concluding phase of the wrongful death lawsuit by the Corrie family, over the death Rachel Corrie in March 2003 began in Haifa Thursday, with the Government of Israel being granted their request to have some testimony in this phase shielded from view from the audience, and from the plaintiffs:
The Haifa District Court on Thursday granted a government request to allow soldiers to testify behind a screen in the lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza.
The order includes the driver of the bulldozer that killed Rachel, who is slated to testify later this month. However, Judge Oded Gershon ruled that both the commander of the unit and the second soldier in the bulldozer that hit Rachel would testify in plain view, because their faces were already publicly known.
In asking for the highly unusual protective measures, state attorneys argued that they were necessary to protect the soldiers’ safety and prevent their images from being circulated. They based the request on an overbroad security certificate issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2008, but did not provide concrete evidence to substantiate their concerns for the soldiers’ safety or security.
Corrie attorneys opposed the motion, arguing that allowing the soldiers to testify behind a screen infringes upon the right to an open, fair and transparent trial. They asked to dismiss the request, filed just 48 hours before the first soldier’s testimony. Alternatively, the lawyers asked the court to allow the family to see the witnesses even if the public could not, but their request was denied. Lawyers for the Corrie family plan to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Israel.
The irony of this situation was not missed by Rachel Corrie’s father, Craig:
"While Rachel stood in front of a wall to protect the two families huddled behind it, the state is now making the soldiers hide behind a wall that denies us the opportunity to see them," said Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother. "The State of Israel has been hiding for over seven years. Where is the justice?"
Where is the justice, indeed? I have to say, though, that I’m somewhat surprised the Israeli government hasn’t managed to quash this trial. I’m becoming more convinced every day that the Government of Israel has considered itself at war with the United States of America since July 14th, 1954, when Israeli agents firebombed the U.S. Information Agency libraries in Cairo and Alexandria.
I’m just finishing reading James Scott’s definitive book, The Attack on the Liberty. The number of U.S. officials who believed then and still believe the attack on that ship was intentional is overwhelming. Just one of many examples:
[Secretary of State Dean] Rusk channeled his hostility over the attack into a stinging three-page letter to the Ambassador [of Israel, Avraham Harman]. Aided by Katzenbach and Walt Rostow, Rusk left no doubt he didn’t believe Israel’s assertion that its forces had attacked in error.
Elsewhere (in his memoir), Rusk has been cited:
I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.
Every surviving member of the U.S.S. Liberty’s crew believes that the attack was deliberate, and meant to kill everyone on the ship.
In 1983, the Israeli Government had pre-knowledge of the impending attack on the U.S. Marine barracks near Beirut airport, but intentionally failed to pass it on:
On October 23, 1983 – at 6:20 a.m. – A truck packed with explosives slammed into US Marine barracks at Beirut Internation Airport – killing 241 Marines, mostly aseleep. A few minutes later, a similar explosion blew up a French military barracks – killing 56 French soldiers. Israeli Mossad acknowledged that it had prior information on these terrorist activities – but its chief Nahum Admony – decided not to warn Israel’s ally in details: “No. We are not going to protect the Americans. They’re a big country. Send only the regular information.”
Consistent with this sort of M.O. – that of a nation at war with the U.S. and its citizens – in the matter of this ongoing trial, is the way the IDF handled the surveillance of the area where Corrie was killed, at the time she was killed:
Also testifying on Thursday was the head of the Military Police Special Investigative Unit, Shalom Michaeli, who oversaw the investigation into Rachel’s killing. He told the court that he stood by his 2003 investigation and saw no reason that anyone should have been prosecuted.
Michaeli was also in charge of the investigation into the killing of Iman al Hams, a 13-year-old Gaza school girl who was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in Rafah as she lay injured on the ground in October 2004. A military police internal investigation subsequently found major failures in Michaeli’s investigation, saying it was conducted unprofessionally and with negligence. The solider who killed al Hams was court-martialed but subsequently acquitted – in part because of this flawed investigation.
Michaeli’s cross-examination revealed similar flaws in the Corrie investigation. These flaws support the family’s claim of government negligence, for allowing soldiers and their commanders to act recklessly using armored military bulldozers without due regard for the presence of civilians.
Michaeli said that he ordered only a partial transcript of radio transmissions because he did not think it important to transcribe the full audio.
He said he did not go to the site of Rachel’s killing because it was dangerous, the terrain had already been altered, and the vehicles removed by the Israeli military. He acknowledged that he could have gone to the scene in an armored vehicle, but chose not to.
Michaeli testified in his written affidavit that when he inspected the bulldozer he did not find any signs of blood or other evidence that the vehicle had injured anyone. However, in court testimony he said the bulldozer could have been washed “or even painted” before he inspected it.
Michaeli said he knew, prior to opening the investigation, there was a video camera recording the area around the clock. But he failed to obtain the tape until March 23, a week after the incident, because it had been previously taken by senior commanders.
When questioned about his failure to interrogate the camera operator, who panned away from the scene only minutes before Rachel was killed, he said he did not think it was relevant.
When asked whether he questioned the bulldozer crews about an Israeli military manual for low intensity conflict that states bulldozers should not be operated near people, Michaeli said the manuals were not relevant. He added that bulldozer operators could not be expected to follow such procedures in this zone. He went on to say that he believed the Israeli army was “at war” with everyone in the area, including the ISM peace activists.
Michaeli still heads the Military Police Special Investigative Unit, but has since been promoted from Sergeant Major to Warrant Officer.
“Today I was struck by the lead investigator’s failures – his failure to look for evidence, to secure evidence, to resolve conflicting evidence, and to turn evidence over to this court,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father. “This is not what we and the U.S. government were promised by the government of Israel when Rachel was killed and it is not what we will accept now.” [emphases added]
The IDF clearly states here, that it considered itself to be at war with U.S. citizen Rachel Corrie. I suppose that is how the IDF considered itself to be with U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan, when he was murdered in cold blood for merely attempting to document IDF atrocities:
The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.
The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.
The report says Dogan had apparently been "lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time" before being shot in his face.
The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is "tattooing around the wound in his face," indicating that the shot was "delivered at point blank range." The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that "the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back."
Based on both "forensic and firearm evidence," the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan’s killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 "can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions." [emphases added]
Quite troubling in this context, is the information – covered at The Seminal yesterday by CTuttle, of apparent attempts by Israeli agents, fueled by a new report by the Reut Institute, that will probably target blogs like firedoglake and diarists here such as CTuttle, Markfromireland and me as "existential threats":
The evolution of the Delegitimization Network. This network aims to turn Israel into a pariah state so it will ultimately cease to exist. It is based in a number of metropolitan cities (US!), within which a relatively small number of individuals and organizations mobilize the assault on Israel’s legitimacy. The Delegitimization Network’s success lies in its ability to harness the Western liberal and progressive elite. It does so by employing a variety of means aimed at blurring its true intentions; [...]
11. These groups are leading a systemic and systematic attack against Israel’s political and economic model, which has already had strategic consequences and may become existential if ignored or inadequately addressed.
40. It takes a network to fight a network – The delegitimization campaign against Israel is carried out by a network of NGOs based in a number of international metropolitan cities. Disrupting this network should become the main anti-delegitimization focus.
60. The Reut Institute contends that combined, these forces represent a political-diplomatic strategic threat that may become existential. Resistance Network leaders repeatedly and publicly declare their goal of causing Israel’s implosion inspired by precedents set by the Soviet Union, South Africa, and other countries. This logic is ripening into a strategy that is yielding tangible gains. [emphases added]
While not clearly targeting pro-Palestinian rights bloggers, this document, along with others that have leaked out of Israel over the past year, indicate that efforts to delegitimize the delegitimizers is increasingly being linked to the Israeli model of total war.
As the delightful IDF Col. Yossi declared last month, "There are no civilians in wartime!"