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News Release

For Immediate Release
Rafah, Occupied Palestine, March 18, 2003

IOF disrupts memorial for ISM activist they killed

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) sent the same bulldozer that killed Rachel Corrie to torment her mourners, report ISM-Vancouver activists Gordon and Carel.

RAFAH, March 18 - The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) today used tanks and heavy equipment to disrupt a memorial being held for slain ISM activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an IOF armoured bulldozer two days ago in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah.

At 3pm this afternoon, Rachel's friends, fellow activists and Dr. Samir Masri-- whose house she was protecting when she was murdered -- gathered at the site in Rafah where the bulldozer had buried and crushed her. "Dr. Samir created a small shrine from palm fronds in front of his house," said ISM-Vancouver's Carel. "Then other people began putting flowers and pictures at the site."

Before the short memorial could be completed, an IOF tank arrived and charged toward the mourners. The IOF command had been told in advance that the memorial event would be taking place in the IOF's unilaterally-declared, illegal "security zone" where Rachel had been killed.

A group of international volunteers and media confronted the tank and told the tank crew to leave so the memorial could be completed. The tank withdrew a short distance then attempted to drive around the internationals and charge at the Palestinians gathered at the memorial site.

A large group of internationals, Palestinians and media together forced the tank to retreat and began laying and planting flowers next to the razor wire fence on the other side of the "security" zone. "We could see that this wasteland created by the bulldozers was very recently a vegetable field," reports Carel, "because there were dug-up baby turnips strewn across the ground."

The bulldozer charged again, aiming to crush the flowers that had just been laid near the fence. Two ISM activists confronted the tank and it stopped just two metres from them. When the tank stopped, several people began putting flowers and pictures of Rachel onto the tank. The tank retreated to try and avoid being covered in flowers.

The mourners again asked the tank to withdraw so they could complete the memorial for their friend. The tank commander demanded that everyone leave the area, and, when they refused, he threw tear gas and sound bombs at the mourners.

The tank was joined by an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), another tank, a military road grader and an armoured bulldozer. The ISM activists who had been with Rachel when she was murdered recognised the number on the bulldozer. The IOF had sent bulldozer #949623 that killed Rachel Corrie to drive through and disrupt her memorial.

"The mourners were outraged by this desecration of Rachel's memory and tried to block the advance of all five massive military vehicles," said Gordon. Two vehicles managed to drive around the protest but three were stopped by the protesters. A large group of Palestinians and international volunteers sat down and began planting flowers in front of them.

The first tank responded by gassing the seated protesters with a massive stream of choking smoke that enveloped them and forced them to move. When the tank fired several volleys of warning shots from a machine gun, the mourners decided to leave the security zone.

"All of us were all invited to Dr. Samir's still-standing house for tea," said Carel.

The tank was left churning through the desolate security zone, covered in flowers and pictures of Rachel Corrie.

Gordon and Carel are available for interview by email. Their email is gordon@ism-vancouver.org. Digital photos are available on request.

-30-

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Reem, Coordinator of ISM-Vancouver by email at
info@ism-vancouver.org
.


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