Categorized | Middle East



Dear Friends,

Six items below of the many that should be read today. 

The first brings more data on the court session of the Rachel Corrie trial in which the bulldozer driver who ran over Rachel Corrie 7 years ago was questioned as witness.  This report is by the Corries and their media advisors.   You can well imagine how difficult a day this was for the family.  Yet understanding is not something that they attained from the defense, which filled the small room with its own crowd. 

The 2nd item relates details about what led the Israeli military to bomb a house in Gaza full of members of one family, a family that the IOF had itself made the family stay in.  Pretty disgusting and painful.  But this is what happens when armies fight civilians instead of other armies.  Sickening.  When will it stop?

The 3rd item relates that the Israeli military denies UN agencies to build schools in Gaza.  Why?  Security, of course! This, by the way, after Israel claims to have left Gaza—long after!

Items 4 and 5 bring more hopeful news.  Item 4 reports that the Bishop’s Synod of the Catholic Church has decided to ask the international community to take ‘necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories’, and item 5 relates ‘that a Dutch company was raided by police for violating The Hague ruling on Wall.’  I’m so happy to be able on occasion to distribute positive information.

The final one is not positive.  It reports on an attack by Israeli border police on a small community.  This report is in many of its details typical of the violence perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinians and those who stand in solidarity with them.  This violence is typical of many West Bank communities on Fridays, when most of the demonstrations against the theft of land and homes takes place.

All the best,



 Bulldozer driver testimony underscores lack of transparency in Corrie trial

Bulldozer driver testimony underscores lack of transparency in Corrie trial


October 23, 2010

Voice behind screen says soldiers don’t stop work

Haifa, Israel – The bulldozer driver who struck and killed Rachel Corrie in March 2003, in Rafah, Gaza, testified for the first time Thursday in the civil lawsuit filed by the Corrie family against the state of Israel, but did so under extraordinary protective measures that continue to underscore the lack of transparency in the investigation as well as the trial process.

The driver, Y.P., whose name was not released, is a 38-year-old Russian immigrant who came to Israel in 1995. He was the sole witness for the day and gave his testimony over four hours behind a makeshift partition, a measure the state claimed was necessary to protect his security. Attorneys for the Corries requested that the family be allowed to see the driver even if the public could not, but their appeals were denied.

Download this press release: English (pdf, 171.35 kB)

“We were disappointed not to see the whole human being,” said Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother. “It is a personal affront that the state’s attorneys and Israeli government, on the basis of security, chose to keep our family from seeing the witness.”

Scores of journalists, human rights observers and members of the public were shut out of the proceedings Thursday. The courtroom has only two long rows of seats, nearly half of which were held for the first time by observers apparently from the State Attorney’s office and Ministry of Defense.

In over four hours of often confused testimony, Y.P. seemed to struggle to read and understand his own affidavit signed in April. He could not remember basic facts, such as the date of Rachel’s killing or time of day it happened. He repeatedly contradicted his own statements on the stand and testimony given to military police investigators in 2003.

Highlights of testimony include the following:

  • Y.P stated that after he drove over Rachel and backed up, she was located between his bulldozer and the mound of earth that he had pushed, corroborating photographic evidence and testimony from international eyewitnesses given to the court in March. His testimony calls into question that of the commander inside this same bulldozer, whose written affidavit states that Rachel’s body was located in a different location, on the far side of the mound of earth created by the bulldozer. In court, Y.P. was asked if based on this contradiction he wanted to change his testimony. He firmly stated no.

  • In testimony to military police investigators only three days after the incident, Y.P. said the blind spot in front of the bulldozer was 3 meters. In contradicting court testimony, he claimed the blind spot was 30 meters – ten times the distance first stated.

  • Y.P. knew about regulations that the bulldozer was not to work within 10 meters of people. He was aware civilians were present, but said he was given orders to continue working. He said I’ m just a soldier. It was not my decision.

  • He claimed he did not see Rachel before the event. Nor did he recall seeing her specifically at all that day, despite the fact that she had protested the bulldozer’s activity for several hours and was the only female activist wearing a bright orange fluorescent jacket.

Following the driver’s testimony, Cindy Corrie stated, “It was very difficult not to hear or detect anything in this witness’s words or voice that suggested remorse. Sadly, what I heard from the other side of the screen was indifference.”

The proceedings on Thursday were attended by representatives of the US Embassy, Advocates sans Frontiers, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), National Lawyers Guild, Adalah, and the Arab Association for Human Rights, many of whom have closely followed the hearings throughout the trial.

The next scheduled hearings are November 4 and 15 between the hours of 9:00-16:00 before Judge Oded Gershon at the Haifa, District Court, 12 Palyam St., Haifa, Israel. Additional court dates are expected to be announced soon.

Please visit the Trial Updates page for more information and changes to the court schedule.

For press related inquiries and further information, please contact:

Stacy Sullivan

stacy [at]

Phone (Israel): 972-54-280-7572

October 24 2010

by Dave.

Trial Updates

Featured Projects


For additional reports about the trial and this particular session see

Democracy Now video

[About 1/3 of the way up from the beginning of the video.  Shows also shots of the incident and words from Cindy Corrie expressing her disappointment with the testimony of the driver that killed Rachel and the fact that he was hidden from view.]

2.  Dimi’s notes [forwarded by Ofer]

Driver who killed Rachel Corrie testifiesOctober 22, 2010…3:43 pm

[shows contradictions in the driver’s testimony]

3. Details about the October 7, 2010 hearing

4.  Furnishes background and a review of events, but does not yet cover the October 21 proceedings when the driver of the bulldozer that killed Rachel testified.  However, 


2. Haaretz,

October 24, 2010

What led to IDF bombing house full of civilians during Gaza war?

The order to bomb the house has been explained as the brigade commander’s legitimate interpretation of drone photos shown in the war room.

By Amira Hass

A Military Police investigation into an air strike that killed 21 Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead, according to a recent Haaretz report, indicates senior air force officers had approved the attack. The report, published on Friday by Amos Harel and Anshel Pfeffer (“IDF probes top officers on Gaza war strike that killed 21 family members” ), alleges senior officers authorized the bombing despite being warned by more junior officers that civilians were likely located at or nearby the target site.

One officer involved in approving the attack is then-Givati Brigade commander Col. Ilan Malka. To date it has not yet been determined whether he will stand trial as an officer involved in the affair.

The incident took place on January 5, 2009, in the Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City. During Givati Brigade activity in Zeitun, a house there – home to the Al-Samouni family – was identified as harboring armed Palestinians. The Israel Air Force hit the house twice with missiles, killing 21 civilians, including women and children, and wounding 19 others.

While some Givati soldiers agreed to testify to Breaking the Silence (an organization of veteran combatants who served during the second intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to everyday life in the occupied territories ) about their part in Operation Cast Lead, notably absent are the soldiers who manned the position nearest the house that was bombed on Malka’s orders.

On the morning of January 4, the commanders of this force ordered the dozens of members of the extended Samouni family to leave the three-story house (the home of Talal Samouni ), which they then turned into their outpost. The soldiers told them to gather in the one-story home of Wail Samouni, on the other side of the road and about 30 meters southeast. The Samounis took the fact that the soldiers themselves concentrated the family in one building, and saw that there were infants, children, women, elderly people and unarmed men, as insurance that they would not be harmed.

Despite the intense firing heard all around them that entire evening, the family’s fears were mitigated by the proximity of the soldiers who had assembled them into the one home. Several of the Samouni men even left the house on Monday morning (January 5 ) to collect wood for a fire, hoping to bake pita and heat up tea. They also called out to a relative who had remained in his home, a few meters east of them, and suggested he join them because their house was safe.

Shortly before that, one of the women of the house ventured outside with a child to draw water from a nearby well, as the water tanks on the roof had been riddled by the soldiers’ bullets a day earlier. The woman and the child were within view of the soldiers, a fact which the Samounis reported to Haaretz, in Gaza, over a year and a half ago. Their testimony received extensive coverage in Haaretz, in world media outlets, and in reports filed by Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations.

Straight from the war room

A small wooden structure stood next to the house, and several of the men apparently began climbing onto it to take apart the boards. This activity was seen in drone photographs shown on the screen in the war room headquarters, which according to testimony obtained by Breaking the Silence is of poorer quality than the screen before the person operating the aircraft.

In the war room the poles the men were holding were taken to be RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades ) and the people carrying them were marked as a squad of terrorists who should be shot immediately. First the group of men outside the house was shelled. They ran into the home, which was then shelled twice. The structure was not destroyed, but because it was so crowded inside, dozens were killed and wounded.

One soldier who had testified to Breaking the Silence told Haaretz about two months ago that soldiers at another outpost, east of the Samouni compound, received information from the war room on the two-way radio that an RPG squad was walking around in the area.

On the morning of Monday, January 5, a group of stunned Palestinian civilians, including a woman and her baby daughter whose fingers had been lopped off, arrived at that soldier’s outpost. The soldiers managed to understand that the woman’s husband had just been killed. The woman’s husband, the soldier confidently told Haaretz, had been killed by a Palestinian RPG that was aimed at the other soldiers’ outpost but by mistake had hit the adjacent Samouni home.

Most of the Givati soldiers who gave testimony to Breaking the Silence didn’t even know 21 civilians had been killed in a shelling carried out under war-room orders, based on drone photographs. They didn’t know in real time, nor did they know a year and a half later, when they spoke to Haaretz. They hadn’t heard of the “Samouni” family, despite the extensive media coverage as well as the space devoted to this family’s history in the Goldstone report.

Unknown details

On January 4, 2009, the Sunday after the ground incursion had begun, a Givati force set up outposts and bases in at least six houses in the Samouni compound at the southeast end of Zeitun – as revealed upon matching the testimony of local Palestinians with that of the soldiers. Immediately after the ground incursion, IDF soldiers had already killed five Palestinian civilians, most of them from the Samouni family, in separate incidents that took place late at night and in the morning. One child who was seriously wounded when forces broke into his home, bled there to death until the next day – 24 hours after his father was killed at short range.

These details were also unknown to the soldiers that Haaretz found with the help of Breaking the Silence. They agreed to the organization’s request to testify because they were horrified by two other incidents they witnessed, when their comrades killed civilians at close range. The soldiers were upset by the destructive actions of the IDF, the trigger-happy atmosphere and the virtual reality, as they described it, created by IDF spokesmen inside Israel, to the effect that there was serious fighting in the Gaza Strip. The soldiers soon understood that they were not actually confronting the dangerous Hamas resistance for which they had been prepared on the eve of the attack.

Until now the order to bomb a house full of civilians has been explained and understood as an ostensibly legitimate interpretation on the part of the brigade commander of drone photographs displayed on the screen in the war room. According to the findings of human rights organizations and Haaretz investigations, during the course of Cast Lead many other civilians were killed and wounded by aerial strikes, in a similar process: based on how drone photos on war-room screens were interpreted.

The many incidents described in the human rights organizations’ reports indicate that the drone photographs are not as precise or clear as they are said to be, or that the technology considered “objective” also depends on commanders’ interpretation: Children playing on the roof are liable to be regarded as “scouts,” people trying to speak to their relatives over the phone are liable to be “signal operators for a terrorist brigade,” and families that went to the garden to feed the goats, squads of Qassam launchers.

In the case of the Samounis, the possibility of cross-referencing sophisticated technological information with human information from the field was available 24 hours before the “RPG squad” ostensibly appeared on the war room screens.

No ambulances

The Givati Brigade commander, fearing Hamas attempts to kidnap IDF soldiers, insisted that not a single ambulance enter the sector under his control. That was also learned from soldiers who spoke to Breaking the Silence. Testimony from the Zeitun area, which was reported by Haaretz in real time based on conversations with neighborhood residents, told of at least two children and two adults who bled to death after being shot by Givati soldiers, because the Red Cross and the Red Crescent were unable to coordinate with the IDF the approach of ambulances to the area.

According to the testimony of the family of Hussein Ayedi, who lived in eastern Zeitun, only a week after he was injured and after daily coordination efforts by Physicians for Human Rights, were they allowed to leave on foot, under various conditions, and to meet up with ambulances at a distance of over three kilometers. 

According to one soldier who spoke with Breaking the Silence, brigade commander Malka insisted that if there were wounded, they should be taken on foot. But according to many reports from the field, sometimes even convoys of civilians were not allowed to progress on foot and the soldiers fired at them.


3. Ynet,

October 23, 2010

    IDF stops UN from building Gaza schools

Officials say Israel fears Hamas, which has facility on location, will use schools for terror purposes,7340,L-3973715,00.html

Ali Waked

The IDF is preventing the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) from building schools near Hamas headquarters in Gaza, the UN agency said Saturday.

Defense officials said Israel had approved the construction of eight schools but rejected four, which the agency had asked to build near a Hamas facility in the Gaza City neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa, because the state fears they will be used as defenses for the organization. 

UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna told Ynet that the agency had planned to build the schools in open spaces, in areas containing mainly a population of refugees. 

He also warned that Israel’s refusal to transfer building materials for the schools’ construction into the Strip would further exacerbate the shortage in classrooms.

“UNRWA was forced not to accept 40,000 students this year because of the lack of space in schools,” said Abu Hasna. 

Defense officials said Israel would reconsider and probably approve the transfer of materials into Gaza if new locations were found for the institutes of learning. 

Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report


4. In final statement of two-week conference, bishops’ synod urges international community to take ‘necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories’,7340,L-3973590,00.html


Roman Catholic bishops for the Middle East urged the United Nations Saturday to end the Israeli occupation of “Arab lands” at the end of a meeting chaired by Pope Benedict XVI.

In a final statement of their two-week conference, the bishops’ synod said the citizens of the Middle East “call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations, conscientiously to work to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution in the region, through the application of the Security Council’s resolutions and taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories.

“The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security. The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within their internationally recognized borders,” the statement read.

According to the bishops, “The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope that the two-state-solution might become a reality and not a dream only.”


5.  Gush Shalom Saturday, October 23, 2010

   Press Releases 

Riwal raided for violating The Hague ruling on Wall


Dutch police raided offices of company leasing cranes for building West Bank Separation Fence and settlements, on suspicion of violating International Law

A few days ago, the Dutch police’s National Crime Squad raided the offices of the Riwal Holding Group in the city of Dordrecht, confiscating computers documents relating to the leasing of cranes owned by the the company’s Israeli branch for the construction of the “Separation Wall” and of settlements in the Occupied Territories. Police findings have been passed on to the Dutch State Prosecution, which should decide whether or not to prosecute the corporate executives – including the Israeli businessman Doron Livnat – on charges of violating International Law.

The affair started with the 2004 ruling by the International Court in The Hague, which determined that construction of the “Separation Wall” within the West Bank territory constituted a violation of International Law, and that if Israel wants to build a border fence to prevent infiltration into its territory it should have been placed on the border, i.e. on the Green Line. Accordingly, the International Court judges called for upon all UN member states and Geneva Convention signatories not to cooperate with erection of the Wall and to prevent their citizens from any such cooperation.

In 2006, a Dutch television crew filmed cranes active in construction of the Separation Fence and of settlements, which bore the Riwal Company logo. Dutch Labour Party MP’s raised the issue and addressed parliamentary questions to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. As a result, the Dutch Government in 2008 warned the Riwal company not to engage in activities at the Occupied Territories. But the organization “United Civilians for Peace” in Amsterdam found evidence that the company ignored the government warning and continued this activity.

Last year the Palestinian human rights organization Al Haq of Ramallah engaged the Dutch law firm Bohler. On its behalf, Adv. Liesbeth Zegveld lodged this year a complaint to the legal authorities. The raid on the Riwal Dordrecht offices is a tangible result of this activity.

Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, regards this episode as yet another alarming sign of Israel’s deteriorating international position, fast slipping down to a disastrous total isolation. “A decade ago, authorities in the Netherlands would not have considered taking such measures. The Israeli Government, renewing settlement construction, promoting loyalty oaths and ever new provocations, confronts the entire the world, alienates Israel’s best friends and takes us on a mad gallop into the abyss”.

Riwal is the largest company in the Netherlands in the field of building cranes, and among the largest in the world. The Riwal Israel Company, active also under the name “Lia Holding”, was in the news a few years ago when a business dispute between it and the competing “Avi Cranes” escalated into violence and the setting of cranes on fire.

Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson 054-2340749 Background:


6.  [forwarded by Asaf  Oron]

2010/10/23 david -N

Israeli Border Police Seized, Attacked and Burned Nabi Saleh Homes During Demo; 2 Palestinians Arrested

posted by Ayala Shani

October 22, 2010

House burnt by tear gas canisters attack; houses invaded and used as military outposts; soldiers shooting on sight whomever in their range; making arrests; collectively punishing a population by mass tear gas attacks; snippers shooting rubber bullets; and live ammunition shot towards protesters – another long Friday of harsh Israeli army repression was the share of Nabi Saleh residents, bravely standing up for their freedom against the strangulating occupation and the Halamish settlement, built itself on the village’s lands.

The demonstration’s initial march was even shorter than usual as it met with an immediate unprovoked attack by Israeli border police, shooting tear gas canisters directly at the protesters, a conduct which persisted throughout the demonstration and which violates even the army’s own regulations.

This attack was soon followed by an army break-in and takeover of several houses within the village, using them and especially their roofs as military outposts. During the second Intifada the Israeli army took over houses for months in a row, and now residents say the houses taken over during the demonstration are likely to be repeatedly taken over in the coming Fridays.

The army soldiers took the liberty (with, in many cases, twisted pleasure) to shoot on sight whomever was in their range. Only in few cases stones were thrown back to ward off the army’s incursion. Snipers used rubber bullets and close to the end of the army’s incursion into the village, soldiers also shot live ammunition towards the protesters. Several protesters sustained non-serious injuries, mostly from tear gas canisters shot directly at them.

Within the army’s unprovoked and cruel attacks inside a populated area, two houses were hit by tear gas canisters. In one of the houses a fire erupted as a result. The fire consumed some of the family property (mostly mattresses and the internal walls paint). Protesters came to put out the fire, and later own Palestinian fire department tracks arrived.

In a separate incident two Palestinian protesters were arrested for no justified reason.

On Thursday night, prior to the day of the demo, as is the case on many nights since the demos has started – the Israeli army has invaded the village and patrolled it. No arrests were made. Some 10 army jeeps were involved in this Friday’s army incursion into Nabi Saleh.

The three village’s youth who were arrested during last Friday were released on Tuesday and Thursday to the joy of their families, friends and supporters.

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