Court rules out US activist Rachel Corrie ‘accidentally’ crushed to death by Israeli army bulldozer
US activist Rachel Corrie was ‘accidentally’ crushed to death by an army bulldozer during a Pro-Palestinian protest in 2003, an Israeli court has ruled.
In a lengthy ruling, the judge concluded that 23-year-old Rachel Corrie died in a “regrettable accident”.
Corrie’s family filed the civil lawsuit in the city of Haifa in 2005, accusing Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their daughter and failing to conduct a full and credible investigation.
Corrie was killed in Rafah, upon the border of Gaza, in 2003, as she and the other activists attempted to block the bulldozer as a form of protest against the Israeli military’s demolition of Palestinian homes.
The judge said that Israel is not responsible for any “damages caused” as they had occurred during what he referred to as war-time actions and ignored allegations about key video evidence being destroyed.
Judge Oded Gershon said the soldiers at the scene had done their utmost to keep people away from the site and therefore prevent accidents.
He said: “She [Miss Corrie] did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done”.
The bulldozer driver, who claimed that he did not see Miss Corrie, and his superiors had already been cleared of any wrongdoing by an Israeli military court.
Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, said: “We insist that Rachel’s killing could have and should have been avoided. We believe that Rachel was seen. Everything that we knew coming into this process, reinforced by all that we saw and heard in court confirmed our belief that at least one soldier… knew Rachel was in the bulldozer’s path.
“The policies that Rachel came to Gaza to oppose, that led to her killing and the killing of so many others must change. At the very least we hope that our loss will make some small difference in making those changes more likely”.
The Corries were seeking a symbolic /$1 in damages, along with compensation for the money they have spent bringing the case to trial.
They say they have spent more than $200,000 (£125,000) of their own savings to fly in witnesses, attend hearings and translate more than 2,000 pages of court transcripts.
Hussein Abu Hussein, the family’s lawyer, said that they will appeal.
He said: “The verdict is based upon distorted facts and could have been written by the state’s attorney”.
Many foreign activists have been killed or wounded whilst confronting the Israeli military over the illegal occupations of Palestinian land but Rachel Corrie’s case became a symbol of Israel’s harsh repression of non-violent protest.
The case was the first civil lawsuit over the death or injury of a foreigner by Israeli’s military to conclude in a full civilian trial. Other cases have concluded with a out-of-court settlements.
Tom Dale, a pro-Palestinian campaigner and Rachel Corrie’s friend, said: “For those who follow events in Gaza and Palestine, we are not wholly surprised there is another event in which justice has not been met.
“The unfortunate reality of having some time in Gaza, or in Palestine in general, is that one very frequently sees tragic, terrible abuses of human rights in which the official line of the Israeli government, and even the later verdict of the courts doesn’t match up to reality.
“Those cases which have to come to court, unfortunately, are yet to see a single prosecution of an Israeli soldier for murder”.