Rachel Corrie, a member of the International Solidarity Movement from Olympia, Washington, was killed Sunday, March 16, by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza as she tried to prevent the demolition of a family home. Here is the letter she wrote to her parents in February Rating: NNNNN
.Rafah, Gaza -- I don't know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I'm not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. I think about the fact that no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it, and even then you are always well aware that your experience is not at all the reality, what with the difficulties the Israeli Army would face if they shot an unarmed U.S. citizen, the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and, of course, the fact that I have the option of leaving.
Nobody in my family has been shot driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean. When I leave for school or work, I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting halfway between Mud Bay and downtown Olympia at a checkpoint -- a soldier with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I'm done.
So if I feel outrage at arriving and entering briefly and incompletely into the world in which these children exist, I wonder conversely about how it would be for them to arrive in my world. Once you have seen the ocean and lived in a silent place, where water is taken for granted and not stolen in the night by bulldozers, and once you have spent an evening when you haven't wondered if the walls of your home might suddenly fall inward, waking you from your sleep, and once you've met people who have never lost anyone, once you have experienced the reality of a world that isn't surrounded by murderous towers, tanks, armed "settlements" and now a giant metal wall, I wonder if you can forgive the world.
Currently, the Israeli army is building a 14-metre-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-man's land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater.
Today, as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border "Go! Go!" because a tank was coming. Followed by waving and "What's your name?" There is something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids: Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot by the tanks when they peek out from behind walls to see what's going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously, occasionally shouting -- and also occasionally waving -- many forced to be here, many just aggressive, shooting into the houses as we wander away.
I've been having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but I hear an escalation of war on Iraq is inevitable. There is a great deal of concern here about the "reoccupation of Gaza." Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents, but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here.
(The size of our group has) been wavering between five and six internationals. There is a need for constant nighttime presence at a well on the outskirts of Rafah since the Israeli army destroyed the two largest wells. According to the municipal water office, the wells destroyed last week provided half of Rafah's water supply. Many of the communities have requested internationals to be present at night to attempt to shield houses from further demolition. After about 10 pm it is very difficult to move at night because the Israeli army treats anyone in the streets as resistance and shoots at them. So, clearly, we are too few.
I continue to believe that my home, Olympia, could gain a lot and offer a lot by deciding to make a commitment to Rafah in the form of a sister- community relationship. Some teachers and children's groups have expressed interest in e-mail exchanges, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds.