Monday, October 16, 2023
Our daughter Rachel Corrie was killed in Gaza 20 years ago by an Israeli military-operated bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home. Two days before her death, Rachel described seeing children shot and killed, greenhouses and homes demolished. She told reporters that she was witnessing the "systematic destruction of people's ability to survive,” and added, “that is incredibly horrifying." Her death brought us into relationships with many Palestinians in Gaza. For two decades, we have worked alongside them to amplify their experiences of daily survival and resilience, and to call attention to the devastating humanitarian consequences of Israel’s occupation, siege, and blockade of Gaza. We have worked alongside Jewish and Israeli peace activists, as well, who have joined the struggle for Palestinian freedom.
Just over a week ago, we all witnessed the horrifying massacre of Israeli civilians carried out by Hamas. We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in Israel and by the taking of civilian hostages. There is no conceivable justification for the atrocities and war crimes committed by Hamas that claimed the lives of so many Israeli civilians and impacted so many more. Having experienced a similar moment in our lives, we have some understanding of the unspeakable pain of the families irrevocably changed.
Without excusing what has occurred, we must still remember the context: 75 years of settler-colonial displacement of the Palestinian people, 56 years of Israeli occupation, and 16 years of siege and an air, land, and sea blockade of Gaza, all intended to erase the Palestinian people from their lands. We must remember the decades of daily violations of Palestinian rights committed by the Israeli government, its military, and by Israeli settlers - and our own U.S. government’s financial aid and political cover for these violations. We must remember the abject failure, after 75 years, to end the oppression and to arrive at a just and lasting peace.
We are deeply disturbed by the Israeli government’s reprisal against Hamas, supported by our own government, that has already claimed nearly 2700 Palestinian lives. The captive population of Gaza, 40% of whom are below age 16, are now suffering the massive destruction of this reprisal, with no defenses and little chance of escape. This is an ongoing atrocity, one that is preventable, and one that will lead inevitably to future counter-attacks, in the insatiable cycle of killing and hatred. Israel has cut off electricity, water, food and fuel to the entire population of 2.3 million Palestinian civilians, an outrageous act of collective punishment against people who had nothing to do with the Hamas killings. Seventy-five years of Israeli war crimes do not excuse the war crimes committed against more than 1400 Israelis on Saturday, October 7, and the war crimes committed on that terrible day do not excuse those now being inflicted by the Israeli government upon Gaza civilians.
In serving the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, and those in the region, we must do all in our power to support de-escalation of the situation and a ceasefire, and to ensure that the civilian population of Gaza, so dehumanized in the current discourse, is protected. At this critical juncture, we urge our political leaders and the public to join us in not simply returning to the status quo, but to genuinely working for a future in which Palestinians and Jewish Israelis live together as equals on shared lands.
As Rachel wrote to us shortly before she was killed, “This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don't think it's an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop.”
Cindy and Craig Corrie
On behalf of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice