Israel army cleared of activist's death

2012-08-28 11:45

Jerusalem - An Israeli court has cleared Israel's military of any blame for the death of American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an army bulldozer during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Gaza.

Haifa - An Israeli court on Tuesday cleared Israel's military of any blame for the death of American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an army bulldozer during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Gaza.

Corrie's family had accused Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their 23-year-old daughter in March 2003, launching a civil case in the northern city of Haifa after a military investigation found the army was not responsible.

Judge Oded Gershon said the death was a "regrettable accident" and invoked a clause that absolved the army because the incident had happened during a war-time situation.

"She did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done," he told a packed courtroom.

Corrie, from Olympia, Washington, had joined a small group of international activists trying to stop the Israeli army from demolishing houses in the southern Gaza town of Rafah during the height of a Palestinian uprising.

Her friends said she was wearing a bright orange vest at the time of the incident and was standing on a mound of earth, but had lost her footing as the bulldozer advanced. The driver said he had not seen her and did not hear the cries to stop.

Family to appeal

Corrie's mother, Cindy, denounced the verdict and accused the court of looking to shield the military from justice.

"I believe that this was a bad day not only for our family but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel," she told reporters.

The family said it would appeal the ruling.

Corrie's death made her a symbol of the uprising, and while her family battled through the courts to establish who was responsible for her killing, her story was dramatised on stage in a dozen countries and told in the book "Let Me Stand Alone".

Judge Gershon said soldiers had done their utmost to keep people away from the site on the day of the protest, adding that visibility had been poor and that Corrie had not been careful about where she had stood.

The Israeli army said it needed to demolish houses to prevent guerrillas from using the area as cover for attacks. Palestinians said it was a form of collective punishment and the United Nations had condemned the practice.

Let down by US diplomacy

"It was a very regrettable accident and not an intentional act," the judge said, dismissing any claims for damages. He ruled that the family would have to pay its own legal costs but not those of the defence.

Senior US officials criticised the original military investigation into the case, saying it had been neither thorough nor credible. But the judge said the inquiry had been appropriate and pinned no blame on the army.

Corrie's mother, who struggled to hold back her tears, said she felt let down not just by the Israeli legal system but also by US diplomacy.

"Rachel was a human being and we as her family deserved accountability," Cindy Corrie said. "The [Israeli] state has worked extremely hard so that the truth behind what happened to my daughter is not exposed."

Few Israelis showed much sympathy for Corrie's death, which took place during the second Palestinian Intifada [uprising] in which thousands of Palestinians were killed and hundreds of Israelis died in suicide bombings.

Israel's far-right Yisrael Beitenu party, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition, heralded the verdict as "vindication after vilification".


  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-28 20:59

    War crimes, murder, holocausts, merely historical "accidents". Move on, nothing to see here .....

      Jaba - 2012-08-29 09:50

      The court in Haifa has reached the same conclusion as the three other courts (In the USA) in which the Corrie family have brought suit. No payday for the Corries out of their daughter's suicide (that's what the U.S. District Judge in Washington called it). Pretty despicable that the Corries would try to profit from Rachel's death, though, isn't it?

  • larry.lachman.54 - 2012-08-28 21:25

    No sympathy from me either. The world is full of these single issue bleeding hearts who do not have enough brains to mind their own business. A few less can only be good. Stupid girl got herself killed. Stupid parents want to blame everyone but thier child.

  • Jaba - 2012-08-29 09:47

    Rachel Corrie(24 yo) was sent to Gaza by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) an organization focused on support of the Palestinian cause. Her trip, stay in Gaza were all financed by ISM: They sent to a war zone a person who was not trained as a soldier or even taught to understand the situation on the ground in a war torn area. ISM gave her, at the most, two days of training. She did not speak Arabic or Hebrew. Yet she was specifically sent to be a "human shield" without warning her or her family that, in a war zone, injury or death happen. ISM is clearly negligent though nobody so far questioned their responsibility. To deny it they turned the table and succeeded to enlist the family, international media and Palestinian powerful propaganda machine to make Corrie a martyr. I am unhappy that Israeli court did not uncover the responsibility of ISM in sending a naive, un experienced, good willing person to her death. Western media, NGOs, legal forums, the United Nations, some churches and ordinary public opinion was quick to make Rachel Corrie a martyr and myth. ISM must be responsible for the tragedy and punishe for it.

  • rafick.valli - 2012-08-29 11:24

    More injustice from the "peaceful and democratic" Israel ;-( Watch this interview with Rachel, two days before she was murdered by the IDF. and

      boom.baracus - 2012-08-30 22:34

      She was not murdered by the IDF you prejudiced idiot.

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