For Immediate Release Contact: Alistair Hodgett
March 17, 2003 + 1 202 544 0200 x302
Group Calls for Investigation, Suspension of Weapons Transfers
(Washington, DC) -- Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today condemned the killing of Rachel Corrie and called for an independent investigation of her death. The organization also renewed a call for a suspension of US transfers to Israel of military equipment, including bulldozers, which have been used to commit human rights abuses. Amnesty International has consistently condemned violations by all parties to the conflict and called on these parties to take all possible measures to bring to an end the killing and wounding of civilians.
"As Rachel Corrie was an American citizen, the US government has a particular responsibility to ensure a thorough, proper and impartial investigation," said Christine Bustany, AIUSA's Advocacy Director for the Middle East. "US-made bulldozers have been 'weaponized' and their transfer to Israel must be suspended."
Ms. Corrie was a member of a group called International Solidarity Movement. Reports indicate that she was trying to stop the demolition of a Palestinian building in the Rafah refugee camp located in the Gaza Strip, when an Israel army bulldozer ran her over, crushing her to death.
In the past two years, the Israeli army has demolished more than 3,000 Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories, as well as large areas of agricultural land, public and private properties, and water and electricity infrastructure in urban and rural areas. Bulldozers used for demolitions have killed Palestinian civilians, but to date no thorough investigation has taken place. Amnesty International stresses that a thorough, professional, independent and impartial investigation into these deaths is urgently needed.
As the main supplier of weapons to Israel, the United States must take measures to guarantee that weapons it supplies are not used in a manner that violates international and US law. Amnesty International and other international, Israeli, and Palestinian human rights groups have reported on Israel's use of disproportionate, excessive, and lethal force without regard to civilian lives, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, extrajudicial executions and unwarranted destruction of civilian property that have resulted in deaths of innocent bystanders. The Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002 confirmed many of these violations and cites helicopters, fighter aircraft, anti-tank missiles, and flechettes as weapons used to commit human rights abuses. Amnesty International urges that such transfers immediately be suspended until Israel is found to be in compliance with the terms of US laws and bilateral defense agreements governing transfers or offers effective and enforceable guarantees that US weapons will not be misused in this fashion.