Fight War Not Wars. Rachel Corrie – the American girl killed defending a Palestinian home.
The world, my world, narrowed to a single point. The war, the wars, that had filled my thoughts raged on around. The Iraq war buildup, occupation of Palestine, the assaults on Gaza, the poverty and inequality and sexism that for most exacerbated their desperate situation evaporated from my consciousness. The brutality of the occupation that for the past two months had crowded all else from my head, with its desperate importance – all that blurred to non existence.
“My back is broken.” The last words Rachel Corrie ever said. I dropped my mobile phone in the middle of dialling for an ambulance and took her head in my hands to stabilise her spine. Nearby the bulldozers and tanks were driving – normally impossible to ignore massive, armoured, roaring, military machines. Another international with incredible foresight took photo after photo.
We were in the Philadelphia Corridor. Land scraped clean of Palestinian homes over the past few years and made into a militarised buffer zone between the Israeli army’s newly erected steel wall and the half of Rafah that fell on the Gaza side of the border with Egypt. Even in overcrowded, desperate for space Gaza, this area was to be avoided. The only movement would be the frequent passage of tanks and APCs and armoured bulldozers and even then, even the Israelis wouldn’t tarry.
The world comprised of 4 people. I held Rachel’s head. On her right and left Greg and Will knelt beside her, focusing all they could to will her to survive. Four friends, one of whom’s life force was leaking out as we held her, told her we loved her and how awesome she was and how she was going to be ok. How she was going to do these awesome talks back in the states about how she’d survived being run over by an IDF bulldozer. As we desperately tried to keep our dying friend with us, while her body was breaking apart and there was nothing we could do. Helplessly I observed the thin skin around her eyes and ears blackened with blood from the bleeding in her brain. The depth and regularity fading from her breathing.
In less than an hour she would be declared dead and this tiny world would be the centre of global attention, as multinational media filled with news of an American girl killed defending a Palestinian home. Suddenly my world would be talking live on TV channels from every continent, confronting head on the USA and Israeli states when they tried to force us to hand over Rachel’s body to the IDF, the institution that had killed her. I would be on a call with a USA congressman. Emails and phone calls would flood in from around the world. We would give a packed out press conference to local and global media.
But at that moment there were just four of us in the world, and one was dying as we held her. Four kids from USA and UK whose life paths had happened to intersect in Palestine. Four kids in the most dangerous place in the Gaza Strip, and one of us was fading fast and there was nothing the rest of us could do about it.
This is what War means. This is the detail in every casualty statistic. People holding their loved ones as their soft flesh disintegrates from the sudden penetration of the hard metals of war; tanks, guns, bombs, shrapnel. Bodies and lives broken. For what?
Each war death is a unique human being, just like your mother, father, sister, brother and child. Communities deemed “war zones” by too powerful others living remote lives moving infantry pieces over plans of “strategic areas”. A little to the left and suddenly that village is ground underneath the caterpillar tracks of War. The tanks roll through. The fighter jets race overhead. Communities and lives are wrecked.
What possible question can this be the right answer to? How can destruction this brutal birth anything worthwhile? What dehumanising of other human beings, what racism must we hold to ever justify such slaughter?
Rachel was an incredible person. Please read from her own words. And know that the millions of others murdered for War are as unique and precious and their deaths as tragic and wrong.
Fight War Not Wars.