Rachel Corrie Trial Begins 7 Years After Death In Gaza

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HAIFA, Israel — The family of an American activist who was fatally crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza accused the Israeli military of whitewashing its investigation into the death Wednesday in opening a civil case against Israel.

The parents of Rachel Corrie are seeking unspecified compensation from Israel's Defense Ministry for their daughter's death in 2003.

Corrie, 23, was killed when she tried to block a bulldozer from demolishing a Gaza home The driver said he didn't see her, and the Israeli military has ruled her death an accident – a version her parents reject.

Corrie was an activist with the International Solidarity Movement, a group that sends foreigners into volatile hot spots to assist Palestinians. The activists often place themselves between Israeli forces and Palestinians to try to stop the Israeli military from carrying out operations.

At Wednesday's opening of the civil case, the Corries' lawyer demanded a new investigation into her death.

"The Israeli government is covering this up under the umbrella of combat activity, which absolves soldiers of responsibility, said Husein Abu Husein. He said he would present his case over the next two weeks, but a ruling isn't expected for about a year.

Corrie's story has become a rallying cry for international anti-Israel activists. Based on her diaries and e-mails to her parents, the story was adopted into an off-Broadway play called "My Name Is Rachel Corrie."

A small crowd of supporters gathered outside the court, holding posters of Corrie and calling for justice for her family.

"On March 16, 2003, Rachel was ripped away from our family and it left an enormous void in our life that can never be replaced and I know that many people in this part of the world have similar voids in their lives," her mother, Cindy Corrie, told reporters.

The Corries have previously unsuccessfully tried to sue Caterpillar Inc., the U.S. company that manufactured the bulldozer. They claimed the company was liable for aiding and abetting human rights violations.

Corrie was from Olympia, Wash. Her parents have repeatedly returned to the Palestinian territories, including to the spot where she was killed. One other International Solidarity Movement activist has died from Israeli fire, and at least two others have been seriously wounded.

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