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Parents demand answers from Israel in bulldozer death

By Paula Hancocks, CNN
  • Parents of U.S. activist killed by bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 take case to court
  • Rachel Corrie was killed as she tried to prevent Israel from bulldozing homes in Rafah
  • Israeli military says the armored bulldozer crew didn't see Corrie
  • Her parents want to know whether the killing was intentional and who is to blame

Jerusalem (CNN) -- A 23-year-old American activist stands in front of an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. The bulldozer drives over her, crushing her to death. These are the facts.

Rachel Corrie, along with colleagues from the International Solidarity Movement, was trying to prevent Israel from bulldozing homes in Rafah, close to the Egyptian border. Her activism cost her her life in March 2003.

A colleague said at the time, "Many times the bulldozer came up to us and buried us with dirt, but they always stopped."

Corrie's parents want to know the truth about their daughter's death, whether the killing was intentional and who is accountable.

Power of grief: Corrie's fight for justice

Video: Parents demand Israeli answers
  • Israel
  • Gaza
  • Israeli Politics

Craig and Cindy Corrie's civil suit against Israel's defense ministry starts in Haifa, Israel, on Wednesday -- a court date that took years to reach.

"The more we found out, the more likely that the killing was intentional, or at least incredibly reckless," Craig Corrie said. "And, as a former soldier, I was even in charge of bulldozers in Vietnam... You're responsible to know what's in front of that blade, and I believe that they did."

The Israeli military carried out a month-long investigation, which found no Israeli soldier was to blame.

"The armored bulldozer crew involved in the incident did not see Ms. Corrie, who was standing behind the mound of earth, and was unable to see her or hear her voice," the military said.

Corrie's parents are proud of what their daughter did, recalling how important it was to her to help Palestinian families in Gaza.

In an interview shortly before her death, Rachel Corrie, who grew up in Olympia, Washington, said, "There are just countless ways in which these children are suffering. I want to support them."

Her mother, Cindy Corrie, told CNN, "She deserves the attention that she's receiving in this case. Every human being who is assaulted and whose life is taken in this way deserves some accountability, some explanation for why this happened, particularly when it's done by a military and particularly when it's a military supported by me and my tax dollars."

The Corries say they cannot take the bulldozer driver to court, because the Israeli military has refused to identify him for the past seven years. But Craig Corrie doesn't necessarily want to see the driver sent to jail.

"We don't think about the soldiers being the victims, but they are, and we ask a lot of these people. So I'm not full of hatred for this person, but it was a horrendous act to kill my daughter, and I hope he understands that."