International Solidarity Movement’s ‘Fauxtographic’ record of Rachel Corrie’s death

A guest post by AKUS

I was stunned to see the following picture in an article by Amira Hass in Ha’aretz. I had never seen such a clear image that purports to show Corrie about to be crushed by a bulldozer:

The caption reads:

Rachel Corrie opposite the bulldozer, 16 March, 2003. Photo: AP

But does it really show what happened?

A little digging on the internet turned up a blog post by “Carlos” at “Peace with Realism” from 2003: “The Death of Rachel Corrie” which investigated the photograph, and found yet another. Both were published by ISM, and are easily found by googling “Rachel Corrie” and looking for images.

At first sight, it seems obvious what happened – she stood near the bulldozer shouting at it to stop using a megaphone, and then was crushed by it. But was that really what these pictures show?

Well, Electronic Intifada ran with the pictures supplied to it by ISM and rather gave the game way. Under the left hand picture, it noted that the picture was taken “between 3:00-4:00PM”:

Picture taken between 3:00-4:00PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. A clearly marked Rachel Corrie, holding a megaphone, confronts the driver of one of two Israeli bulldozers in the area that were attempting to demolish a Palestinian homes. She was confronting the bulldozer in order to disrupt its work, and prevent it from threatening any homes. Photo by Joseph Smith.

But under the right hand picture, the time of 4:45 PM was given for the accident – the picture was obviously taken seconds after the accident:

Picture taken at 4:45PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Other peace activists tend to Rachel after she was fatally injured by the driver of the Israeli bulldozer (in background).

Noting the discrepancy, “Carlos” then took a deeper look at the pictures (my emphasis):

These pictures have been shown to be a hoax. The “before” picture shows Rachel standing in front of the bulldozer with a megaphone, some distance away and foreshortened by perspective, making her appear to be in clear sight of the bulldozer. The presentation also makes it appear that this took place immediately before the incident. However, the photographer himself later admitted that no one with a camera had been present at the site just before Rachel’s accident, that the picture with the megaphone had actually been taken hours earlier, and that at the time of the accident Rachel was not in sight of the driver. An examination of the pictures themselves, noting, for example, the difference in the color of the sky, shows they could not have been taken close to the same point in time. In addition, the bulldozers shown in these supposed “before” and “after” pictures are not the same.

Indeed both CNN, which ran the two pictures, and the New York Times, which ran the first one, published the following corrections:

CNN, March 25, 2003:

Caption clarification: Photos by an International Solidarity Movement eyewitness show Rachel Corrie protesting earlier, and then later, after she was hit by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza on Sunday.

The New York Times, March 26, 2003:

A picture caption on March 17 with an article about an American protester who was crushed by an Israeli Army bulldozer in Gaza referred incorrectly to the bulldozer shown. It was one that the protester, Rachel Corrie, had earlier tried to stop from destroying a Palestinian home. It was not the one that killed her.

Nevertheless pro-Palestinian web sites, including the International Solidarity Movement’s own web site, continue to present the two pictures with incorrect and misleading labels.

Finally, according to “Carlos”, “A later report from ISM Media Coordinator Michael Shaik in Beit Sahour offered more details about the event”. In fact, Shaik made an admission that makes it clear why the bulldozer driver could not have seen Corrie, and why the first photograph has no direct connection to the accident that killed her:

Rachel was sitting in the path of the bulldozer as it advanced towards her.

Only when she realized she could not be seen, did she try to escape:

When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside she climbed up onto the mound of dirt and rubble being gathered in front of it wearing a fluorescent jacket to look directly at the driver who kept on advancing. The bulldozer continued to advance so that she was pulled under the pile of dirt and rubble.

To claim that the “bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside” is a gross distortion – how could he have seen someone sitting on the ground behind a growing pile of dirt and the huge blade of his bulldozer? Then when she realized her situation, instead of moving back or sideways, perhaps in a panic she advanced towards the moving bulldozer, something no sensible person would do, and was crushed under the dirt and rubble.

Moreover, if you look at the two bulldozers, the one visible at the scene of the accident appears to be much larger, with a much larger blade and a much smaller aperture for the driver to see through than the one photographed earlier. Both these differences would have made it harder for the driver to seen anyone in his path.

Corrie was callously used in life by ISM, and is callously being used in death by all those trying to make a case against Israel.

If the picture used by Ha’aretz, to its shame, is the one we start to see in articles about Corrie, it pays to remember that once again the death of this woman is being used, like the Al Durrah affair, as a typical piece of Pallywood fauxtography.

53 replies »

  1. I can’t see a “mound of dirt and rubble” in the second picture. I see flat terrain between Corrie and the bulldozer such that the driver would have to have been blind to not see her.

    • Read the article and then you’ll understand. It’s all clearly explained, by the ISM themselves amongst others.

      But perhaps you don’t want to understand.

    • Yo sencar,
      You ever drove a d9 in a hot combat zone?
      I didn’t think so. Sit down and shut up. Cancel ur Internet connection and get a life you punk.

      • Testament to the increasingly soft and flabby IDF that demolishing homes belonging to defenceless civilians is referred to as a “hot combat zone”.

        What next? Screaming “medic” when you get a paper cut?

        • The court ruled specifically that the house (does it matter who owns it?) was not being threatened.

          The mission of the IDF force on the day of the incident was solely to clear the ground. This clearing and leveling included leveling the ground and clearing it of brush in order to expose hiding places used by terrorists, who would sneak out from these areas and place explosive devices with the intent of harming IDF soldiers. There was an urgency to carrying out this mission so that IDF look-outs could observe the area and locate terrorists thereby preventing explosive devices from being buried. The mission did not include, in any way, the demolition of homes. The action conducted by the IDF forces was done at real risk to the lives of the soldiers. Less than one hour before the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF forces.

          I hereby determine that, on the day of the incident, the two bulldozers and the armored personnel carrier were occupied with the clear military operational task of clearing the land in a dangerous area which posed a significant risk. The force’s action was designed to prevent acts of terror and hostility, i.e. to eliminate the danger of terrorists hiding between the creases of land and in the brush, and to expose explosive devices hidden therein, both of which were intended to kill IDF soldiers. During each act of exposure, the lives of the IDF fighters were at risk from Palestinians terrorists. As aforementioned, less than an hour before the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF force.

    • Obviously a picture-guided mind without reflection. Is this the barbarian age at the doorstep?

      • When Israeli army bulldozers come and destroy hundreds of innocent civilians’ hpuses yes, it is the barbarian age at your doorstep.

        • Sure, the innocence of suicide bombers: Thanks for voluntarily stepping forward as barbarian.

    • The IDF is basically telling us that the soldier who drove the bulldozer was not able to see Ms Corrie even though she was wearing a high-visibility, fluorescent orange jacket.

      Is the IDF so desperate for manpower that it has to hire blind people to drive its war bulldozers?

    • Let us not forget that the so-called Israeli “court” refused to let the physician who tried to save Corrie’s life testify.

      That tells us a lot.

      Fake trial.

    • Some students sometimes ask me what’s the difference between journalism and amateur blogging. I always send them to CIF Watch – the perfect example.

      It’s also good for them to realize that not all can make it in journalism. Some have failed, and have been reduced to venting their frustrations on amateur websites like CIF Watch. Usually it incites students to work even harder, in order to avoid such a fate.

    • You are making a huge assumption that this actually was a picture of the situation immediately after her injury and that was actually the bulldozer responsible. Given that the ISM has twice distributed photographs that were falsely labeled as being moments before her injury (the earlier bulldozer shot and the photoshopped one that claimed to be in front of the house) that is a risky assumption.

      The injured body could have been moved in front of the mound. Not unreasonably, as the court ruled that her injuries came not from the blade but from hitting her head on a concrete block in the debris the bulldozer is pushing.

  2. Question for CIFWatch.
    When you say, I was stunned to see the following picture in an article by Amira Hass in Ha’aretz. I had never seen such a clear image that purports to show Corrie about to be crushed by a bulldozer:

    Did Amira put this pic in an article she wrote from 2003, or she put this pic in an article this week?

    • They’re quite huge. No wonder the driver didn’t see, especially since he wouldn’t have expected some kook to be there in the first place. Thank ISM for that one.

    • The ISM people reported that she sat down or knelt down in front of the bulldozer, before scrambling to the top of the mound of dirt and rubble as it reached her, then slipped underneath the rubble as it collapsed. I think any fair-minded person would agree that the chances of a driver sitting in a the armored cabin of one of those bulldozers seeing someone sitting or crouching in front of the blade would be zero.

      It seems to me that she panicked when she realized she could not be seen, and then instead of moving to one side tried to climb on top of the mound that was about to crush her to get the driver’s attention assuming he would be able to stop in time.

      The claims that she was crushed under the bulldozer seem to me impossible to believe. There would have been nothing left of her if such a huge machine crushed her. This it seems likely the driver actually did stop, realizing that something was wrong but it was too late – the unstable mound of dirt had already collapsed with her sliding down back under it.

      I have not read the trial evidence, and the driver’s evidence is in there somewhere.It is even possible that the driver did try to take action to save her (otherwise she would have been completely crushed by the bulldozer rather than wounded by collapsing debris)and rather being accused of callously causing her death actually tried to prevent it.

      Nevertheless she should not have been there, and ISM should be on trial, on the State of Israel or the driver.

      • Sorry – typo –

        Nevertheless she should not have been there, and ISM should be on trial, not the State of Israel or the driver.

        • This young woman was killed by Tsahal, and Tsahal must be held accountable to the death of this innocent American citizen. Who do you think you’ll fool with yout ridiculous PR? No One.

  3. With out going into more detail at this stage. We may assume that everything ISM publishes is bullshit. It is a fraudulent outfit which is clearly a political player . Why these actors are still in Israel and the West Bank escapes me. Deport these muppets. Just get rid of them. Instead of checking piliponos IDs the police should be hunting down these people and kick them out ASAP. The game is up. Put them on the same plane as Corries parents.

    • Yes, send them all to Olympia, WA, where they can all be “politically and environmentally aware,” and burn some flags like Rachel did for the kids (in an environmentally friendly way of course).

    • There is a difference between the media doing its job and the legal system. The former unfortunately, in matters such as these , has an agenda. The ISM has a one track agenda, and it is not justice. Since it does not operate on the principle of justice for all, it therefore does not stand for justice at all.

      The legal system in israel is robust enough to deal with the matters in question including taking the witness evidence and evaluating its reliability before ruling on it. In the event that a judge “gets it wrong”, the lawyers can appeal.The photos , I am sure were considered and i doubt if anything was overloooked, including ISM evidence. The media is ready to accept rulings of the ICJ, UN reolutions and god knows what as evidence to bash Israel, but if an upstanding Judge in an Israeli Court makes a finding of fact, the media call it a biased court.

      Rachel Corrie was a rare tragedy. No doubt she was brave, in context with what she believed, but she was brainwashed and the ISM have a lot of soul searching to do for what they have done and the media should report fairly and evaluate their contribution to causing an unnecessary death and on the way they operate and who funds it.

  4. I’m a complete tractor ingnoramus, so this is an honest question: is that actually the same vehicle? I realize it probably looks different with the blade up or down, but they seem to have different paint jobs on the blade, different sizes, and a different cabin, or whatever you call the thing on the top. Also different lights, but maybe those raise and lower?

    Anyone know anything about tractors?

  5. It’s not much of a hoax considering the vehicle and the terrain are different in the two pictures.

    After a comprehensive review of the physics involved, coupled with my intimate knowledge of bulldozers – I can, with some veracity, confirm the “before and after” claims of the photos. The one where she is upright – that’s before. The one where she is horizontal – that’s after.

    • And five days apart perhaps. And if photoshop was used, then the upright one could be after.
      Face it Avram, you are a lonely little troll.

      • I’ve re-enacted the event with lego and a toy bulldozer. I can confirm that the picture of Corrie upright was indeed taken *before* her death.

        • Glad to see you are taking the death of a 23-year-old woman so seriously, Avram. If any of the “Ziofascists” on here were half as flippant, you’d be up in arms.

          • I wasn’t one of the ones erupting in indignant rage at the court decision.

            Her death was tragic, but so are a lot of deaths. I dislike people using her death to score political points as much as I dislike Adam and the regulars here dancing on her grave.

  6. Yeah as the man asked where is the mound of earth that Corrie is alleged to have been killed by ? And why did the Israelis refuse to publish the autopsy report ? And why did they refuse to allow evidence from the Physician that attended her after the incident ? Is it because her injuries were not consistent with her being killed by a mound of earth ?

    There seems to be an awful lot of ” making it up as he goes along ” in this articele. Can we have links to the many statements that he claims have been made by ISM spokespersons ?

    • Regarding the mound, I think she is under quite a lot of it. Th autopsy has little to do with it, as everyone seems to agree that she died of bulldozer flattening, so unless you think they poisoned her with polonium you’d better think up a new conspiracy on that one. If you want to see quotes from ISM, a company called ‘Google’ have invented a very good algorithm for doing searches on the ‘Internet’, which your presence on Cifwatch suggests you have access to.

    • Rich – read the judgment. It seems Israel was more than happy to release all the information about the autopsy and the criminal investigation, but Corrie’s family didn’t want it released. Why could that be? And it was Corrie’s family that gave up the right (imposed by the Israeli court against the wishes of the IDF – more evidence if needed of the independence of the judiciary in Israel) to have a representative from the US consulate present at the autopsy.

  7. Not really there is a claim that she died from having had earth pushed onto her her and there was no contact with the doser. She clearly isn’t under any mound of earth. There is no mound of earth to be seen.

    The onus is on the writer of the article to provide citations for his claims, not for readers to go foraging for verification.

  8. Obscured by the person kneeling in front of her. Further we can see by the dozer tracks that it passed over her and back.

  9. Oh Amira, you old joker. Same old methods …

    On June 7, 2001, the news was: “The Hevron Jewish Community sued Ha`aretz newspaper – and won! Ha`aretz staffer Amira Hass, a Jewish resident of Ramallah, wrote several months ago that the residents of Beit Hadassah in Hevron abused the corpse of a terrorist. She wrote that the residents kicked, spat on, and danced atop the body of a dead Arab terrorist, who had just been shot and killed by soldiers shortly after he threw a grenade at them. The plaintiffs cited an announcement by the IDF spokesman at the time asserting that the Jewish residents did not abuse the body in any manner. The Hevron residents demanded an apology, which Ha`aretz did not provide. They then sued the paper for 250,000 shekels, and Ha`aretz did not even submit a defense. Yesterday, Hon. Shalev Gertel awarded the full sum to the Hevron community, in addition to 20,000 shekels for legal expenses

  10. Frimet Roth who lost her daughter in the Sbarros massacre in 2001.
    Read what she wrote about Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, or as i call her, Amira Hamas.
    She hits it right on the head

    Gideon Levy, who writes for Israel`s pre-eminent daily, Haaretz, fancies himself a champion of the weak and vulnerable. The day after my child`s cold-blooded murder by a Hamas bomber, Levy wrote the following in his weekly piece detailing Palestinian suffering:

    “These children, every child in the world should have protection as though he were a VIP. Every child in the world is a VIP”
    Levy did not mention the seven Jewish children whose graves were dug that day because he did not mean those children. He never does.

    Levy`s colleague, Amira Hass, the only Israeli journalist who lives in a Palestinian town, Ramallah, was equally indifferent to my child`s murder. The first piece she published in Haaretz after the Sbarro massacre made no mention of the fifteen victims. Instead, it was an emotive tirade about the Palestinian right of return, reminding her readers of two major Jewish settlements close to Jerusalemthat she fears “won`t be evacuated”: the city of Maaleh Adumim and the Jerusalem satellite community of Givat Ze`ev.
    Murdered Jewish children do not move Hass either.