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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Activist who died for conviction
Rachel Corrie
Rachel Corrie: Her father Craig says he is proud of her
Rachel Corrie, the American killed by an Israeli army bulldozer, was a committed peace activist even before her arrival in the Gaza Strip in 2002.

She was a student at Evergreen State College in her local town of Olympia in Washington State, which is known for its liberal sensibilities.

The 23-year-old arranged peace events there before joining, through local group Olympians for Peace and Solidarity, a Palestinian-led organisation that uses non-violent means to challenge Israeli army tactics in the West Bank and Gaza.

Her parents have paid tribute to her concern for human rights and dignity, remembering how she was "dedicated to everybody".

They spoke hours after Ms Corrie died in hospital on 17 March 2003 from injuries caused by an armoured Israeli army bulldozer demolishing Palestinian houses in the southern Gaza Strip.

Pushed backwards

She was with other activists from the International Solidarity Movement trying to stop the demolition in the Rafah refugee camp.

The Israelis say such tactics are necessary because Palestinian gunmen use the structures as cover to shoot at their troops patrolling in the area.

For Palestinians... this is not a nightmare but a continuous reality from which international privilege cannot protect them
Rachel Corrie
Ms Corrie - who was wearing an orange fluorescent jacket to alert the bulldozer drivers to her presence in pictures taken by her colleagues - had previously described the hazards of her work.

An email despatch details a confrontation on 14 February between another bulldozer and her own group, which she refers to as the "internationals".

"The internationals stood in the path of the bulldozer and were physically pushed with the shovel backwards, taking shelter in a house.

"The bulldozer then proceeded on its course, demolishing one side of the house with the internationals inside," she wrote in the email distributed by the International Solidarity Movement.

Vigil for Rachel Corrie in Olympia
Ms Corrie was active in the peace movement at home
An Israeli army investigation subsequently concluded that the American activist's death was an accident while she was disrupting military operations on the ground.

Officials have said the driver of the machine could not see her - a claim activists have disputed.

Parents' grief

Rachel's father Craig Corrie, speaking to the AP news agency from his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, said: "We've tried to bring up our children to have a sense of community, a sense of community that everybody in the world belonged to.

"Rachel believed that - with her life, now."

"Rachel was proud, and we are proud of Rachel that she was able to live with her convictions.

"Rachel was filled with a love and sense of duty to our fellow man, wherever they lived, and she gave her life trying to protect those that could not protect themselves."

Ms Corrie's mother Cindy said her daughter had spent nights sleeping at wells to protect them from bulldozers.

"She lived with families whose houses were threatened with demolition and today as we understand it, she stood for three hours trying to protect a house."

The grief at her death amongst the community in Olympia was shown after her death when several hundred people turned out for a previously scheduled peace vigil that turned into an impromptu memorial.

Mourners held candles and photocopied pictures of her with the word "Peacemaker", as well as banners urging the United States to stop aid to Israel and avoid war with Iraq.

The Vice President of Student Affairs at Evergreen State College, Art Costantino says on his online notive of her death that she was a "shining star, a wonderful student and a brave person of deep convictions".

Larry Mosqueda, one of Ms Corrie's Evergreen professors and a fellow activist said: "She was concerned about human rights and dignity. That's why she was there."

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