BY GARY SPEDDING
An Israeli court in Haifa rejected accusations that Israel was at fault over the death of US citizen Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an army bulldozer during a 2003 pro-Palestinian demonstration in the occupied Gaza strip.
Summarising a 62-page verdict Judge Oded Gershon noted Rachel’s: “involvement with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM),” adding that “ISM activists had even defended Palestinian families involved in terror, aiding, even if indirectly the activities of terrorists”.
Judge Gershon stated that: “the [Israeli] army had not been involved in demolishing houses, just clearing an area of places from which Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had been attacked”.
According to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, between 2000 and 2004, the Israeli military demolished around 1,700 homes in Rafah, leaving approximately 17,000 people homeless. Corrie was one in a group of international activists non-violently protesting against the demolitions. According to witness statements made at the time and evidence given in court, she climbed a mound of earth in the path of an Caterpillar bulldozer.
Corrie’s family accused Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their 23-year-old daughter, when they launched their civil lawsuit against the state of Israel as an “absolute last resort”. The case opened at Haifa district court in March 2010 after a military investigation had cleared the army of wrong-doing.
The final verdict stated that: “the state is not liable for what occurred during “combatant activities”, he further stated that: “Israel’s investigation was appropriate and had no mistakes”.
The decision clears the IDF of responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie as the judge said: “Rachel could have avoided danger”, concluding that there is: “no negligence from IDF” and that: “[the] IDF didn’t violate Rachel’s right to life, rather she injected herself into a dangerous situation, it was the negligence of deceased that caused death”.
Coming to a final conclusion the judge said “Israel’s military was acting in capacity of a military operation, Rachel Corrie found her death by choice” ruling that what occurred was a “regrettable accident”, but that the state was “not responsible” because the incident had occurred during what he termed “a war-time situation”.
Outright rejecting the suit the judge further added that “There is no justification to demand the state pay any damages.”
“I am hurt,” Corrie’s mother, Cindy, told reporters after the verdict was read. A press statement by the Corries’ attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, read:
“While not surprising, this verdict is yet another example of where impunity has prevailed over accountability and fairness. Rachel Corrie was killed while non-violently protesting home demolitions and injustice in Gaza, and today, this court has given its stamp of approval to flawed and illegal practices that failed to protect civilian life.”