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At-Home with Gila Svirsky

18 March 2003
Subject: Rest in peace, dear Rachel


The media are eager for body counts in Iraq, but the body counts have already begun in Palestine. Under the cover of world attention riveted on the events leading up to the US invasion of Iraq, the Israeli army is having its brutal way with the Palestinians. Yesterday, the army shot and killed 11 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – including two teenagers and a two-year old girl, cowering inside her home – and another two in the West Bank. But with all eyes on Bush and Baghdad, is anybody looking at this?

Peace and human rights activists in Israel and Palestine have been looking, and organizing as well. In the past few weeks, 26 Israeli and Palestinian organizations have joined together in the Palestinian-Israeli Emergency Committee, to try to prevent just such events from occurring, and even worsening. There is no doubt that with the outbreak of war, the army will impose more prolonged curfews and closures, resulting in greater starvation among the already malnourished Palestinian population. It is also expected that the army will seek to disrupt telephone lines and electricity in the occupied territories. And a very real danger exists of stepped-up home demolitions, expulsions, and turning a blind eye to settler militias who attack Palestinians. Activists here will be working to prevent such events, to the extent possible, and keeping the public informed.

Sunday’s horrifying death of 23-year old Rachel Corrie, a peace activist from the U.S. with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Gaza, gripped me painfully. Rachel is the brave young woman who stood in front of the bulldozer, asking with her eyes for the driver to have compassion on the home he was about to destroy, but he drove directly onto her. And then backed up to finish the job. I have gone to sleep and awakened with this image in my mind ever since. I did not know Rachel, but I can only imagine that she herself was so compassionate, that she could not envision the force of darkness about to envelope her. I shudder to recall similar acts of nonviolent resistance in recent years, which ended only with injuries and near-misses, and how this killing reveals the hardening hearts of those now giving and carrying out the orders.

The Coalition of Women for Peace placed the following ad in today’s Ha’aretz:

We extend heartfelt condolences to the Corrie family and to all members of
the International Solidarity Movement on the murder of
during her valiant and nonviolent efforts to prevent
the destruction of a Palestinian family’s home.
The occupation has led to a cheapening of human life – Palestinian, Israeli, and others.

The Coalition of Women for Peace:
Machsom Watch, Movement of Democratic Women of Israel (TANDI), New Profile, Noga Feminist Journal, The Fifth Mother, WILPF - Israel section, and Women in Black.

May Rachel rest in peace, and may her family take comfort in the compassionate and precious soul of their dear child.

Gila Svirsky, Jerusalem

Rachel Corrie (college photo)
Rachel Corrie, age 23 at her death


Coalition of Women for Peace:

At-Home with Gila Svirsky

Letters from Jerusalem, 2001
Letters from Jerusalem, 2002
Letters from Jerusalem, 2003
New & recent letters from Jerusalem (2004)
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Text © 2003 Gila Svirsky. Photo is from the Rachel Corrie Memorial Website.

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