Allah Yerhamu – May God have mercy on him.
Thia is an Arabic phrase spoken after the news of someone’s death.
A communication over military radio between D-9 bulldozers operating in Gaza when American activist Rachel Corrie was trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home in the spring of 2003. Corrie had just been crushed to death.
Rachel Corrie was, of course, female, a point the good doctor makes below in discussing a significant part of the military radio communications which were somehow missing from the transcript, and which only emerged when the audio was recently played in court. Rachel, an American student, was 23 years old on the day she was killed.
A trial in Haifa district court last week heard testimony from the D-9 bulldozer driver and his military commanders this week about what happened from their point of view.
Several fascinating and bitterly witty blog posts have been written about the trial, which opened last March in Haifa, by Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh, a retired physician from Arrabeh village in the Galilee, who has been attending the trial as a public witness. Dr. Kanaaneh wrote his report of the long-awaited Israeli military testimony in the court in Haifa last week, and posted on his own blog on Monday 18 October, here and then picked up on the Mondoweiss blog.
Rachel Corrie’s parents and her sister have been attending every session of the trial — as, apparently, have U.S. Consulate officials.
In his post, Dr. Kanaaneh makes a chilling link between Rachel Corrie’s death in Gaza seven years ago, and the Kufr Qassim massacre 54 years ago — and explains that the expression “Allah Yerhamu” is the connection:
“Hussain Abu-Hussain, the Corries’ lawyer … spent the whole day trying in vain to trick witnesses of the murder of the late ISM volunteer into telling the truth. But the relevant portions of those witnesses’ memory were hermetically sealed behind an impermeable wall of forgetfulness. Limited in my scope of knowledge and understanding to the field of medicine, I am intrigued by the mystery of what effective mind-altering drugs the Israeli Defense Forces have at their disposal to wipe out selective segments of their soldiers’ recall and to effect such precise lacuna of brain damage. Hussain and his fellow international human rights legal expert, Jamil Dakwar, spent the morning interrogating the young and aggressive head of the Military Police unit that had investigated and dismissed as incidental and irrelevant the fact of Rachel’s death in close proximity to two IDF D-9R Caterpillars operating in the Gaza Strep. Despite his striking alertness and wide-eyed combative demeanor on the witness stand, he still lapsed into a state of amnesia when a question crept to within touching distance of the prohibited black hole of truth. On more than one occasion he would throw up his hands in a dismissive private gesture of exasperation to the judge as if in intimate private conversation with him. He seemed to do that every time he felt that he had succeeded in debunking a clever ploy by Abu-Hussain or in adequately deflecting another of the latter’s attempts at reminding him of details he had consciously forgotten. He confirmed, albeit indirectly, the statement previously made in court by one of his colleagues to the effect that “in war there are no civilians.” But he did so in such a circumspect and disconnected manner that the judge seemed to miss the point, for He (and the capital here is intentional, for that is how He seems to consider His position in the domain of His court of judgment) did not display any sign of distress or aggravation in line with what I have come to expect neurologically. Abu-Hussain grilled this witness on the specific point of what rules and regulations there existed on the subject of operating a D-9 in the presence of civilians in the area. The witness, whose name, Shalom, said it all, wavered between the written prohibition of operating the Caterpillar as a battle implement in close vicinity of civilians and the definition of what constituted a war arena and who were civilians and who were not and under what circumstances, etc. etc. ad infinitum. All that Abu-Hussain could prove was that it is very difficult to trick a man who is intent on forgetting to remember.
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