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April 2005 Postcard

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DEAR JAMES W. OWENS:

The Israeli army’s use of Caterpillar equipment to demolish Palestinian homes and trees is widespread, systematic, and thoroughly documented.

Israel has used Caterpillar bulldozers to demolish more than 12,000 Palestinian homes; to uproot 385,000 Palestinian olive trees; to kill Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist, as she nonviolently tried to prevent the razing of a Palestinian home; and to build a 25-foot-high wall that will confiscate about 40 percent of the territory of the West Bank.

Israel is most likely violating the U.S. Arms Export Control Act through its use of Caterpillar bulldozers in the occupied Palestinian territories. I urge the Caterpillar board of directors to stop selling D-9 bulldozers to the Israeli army. Review whether the sale of your equipment to the Israeli army violates your corporation’s own Code of Worldwide Business Conduct.

Selling bulldozers to Israel harms the name of the Caterpillar corporation. 


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Rachel Corrie, 23, shortly before a Caterpillar bulldozer crushed her to death as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home on March 16, 2003 in Rafah, Gaza (Photo courtesy International Solidarity Movement).
   

A Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer crushed to death Rachel Corrie, a young American woman, on March 16, 2003 as she stood peacefully in front of the machine and attempted to prevent it from destroying a Palestinian home in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.

Since 1967 Israel has destroyed some 12,000 Palestinian homes to make way for new settlements, Jewish-only roads or its separation wall, as punishment, or just to provide soldiers a clear line of fire. In 2004 the army destroyed 2,370 houses in Gaza, and last year in Jerusalem at least 80 homes were demolished because the owners lacked permits. I believe that the use of Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers to demolish homes of Palestinians violates not only international law and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, but Caterpillar’s own code of ethics, which your company calls its “most important document.” Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Jewish Voice for Peace, ProgressivePortal, the Presbyterians and Pax Christi, and many other groups, have called on Caterpillar to cease selling your bulldozers to Israel.

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