Dr. Hatem Kanaaneh, a retired doctor in the Galilee who blogs brilliantly here, covered this week the closing session in the year-long trial of the suit for wrongful death brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death while trying to stop an Israeli military D-9 bulldozer from razing Palestinian houses in Gaza in 2003.
Kanaaneh wrote that the trial’s final session heard the testimony of Colonel Pinhas Zuaretz, “better known by his nickname, Pinky, [who] was the commanding officer of the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade at the time”.
Here is an extended excerpt of Kanaaneh’s report:
Col. Zuaretz’s “body language and his automatic assumption of priority in communicating with the judge [Judge Gershon], whose ruddy complexion suggested another longish repose on some tropical seaside, did little to reassure me. But [Corrie family lawyer] Husain Abu-Husain proceeded right away to tangle with the man and to try to cut him down to size … Would he commit to the principle of protecting human life? To this last one Colonel Pinky acquiesced begrudgingly after stressing his first allegiance to protecting the life of his soldiers. And was he still convinced of his conclusion after his rushed investigation of the case of the late Rachel Corrie only hours after his soldiers’ D-9R Caterpillars had crushed her to death that their conduct was flawless? To this he responded in the positive stating that Rachel had died through her own carelessness and willful interference on the side of the terrorists who had sent her to disrupt the soldiers’ orderly carrying out of their duty of leveling an area … In Colonel Pinky’s logic there seemed to be no place for doubt: things were either white or black. What he repeatedly asserted was that the whole area was a war zone and anyone present in it was as good as dead, “ben mavit — mortal” by definition. Rachel was on the side of the enemy and her death should have been a forgone conclusion. How could someone miss such simple logic? Pinky shook his head repeatedly in exasperation at the unbelievable stupidity of his doubters. And his soldiers were performing their duties in a war zone. That included the killing of enemy combatants or of their supporters and messengers, he seemed to imply. And yet his soldiers acted in a humane manner. They tried to give first aid to the accidentally injured woman. Pinky emphasized this ‘humane gesture’ that his soldiers extended to another victim whom they had shot dead as well … Indeed this was beyond the call of duty …”