‘Bad day for humanity’ as Israeli court finds military not at fault for activist’s death

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By Andrew Redmond Barr

In what has been described as a bad day for humanity an Israeli court has ruled that American pro-Palestine activist Rachel Corrie’s death was an “accident”.

Corrie was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in 2003 when she attempted to save Palestinian homes from being destroyed in Gaza.

By Andrew Redmond Barr

In what has been described as a bad day for humanity an Israeli court has ruled that American pro-Palestine activist Rachel Corrie’s death was an “accident”.

Corrie was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in 2003 when she attempted to save Palestinian homes from being destroyed in Gaza.

In a statement, the Israeli justice ministry said: “The death of Rachel Corrie is without a doubt a tragic accident. As the verdict states, the driver of the bulldozer and his commander had a very limited field of vision, such that they had no possibility of seeing Ms Corrie and thus are exonerated of any blame for negligence.”

The ruling, effectively rejecting suggestions that the Israeli state was responsible for the death, is the final verdict of a civil claim of negligence submitted by Corrie’s family.

Cindy and Craig Corrie regarded their daughter (pictured) as a peace activist and protector of civilian life. Today, they had to listen to an Israeli judge claim Rachel was working with campaigners who were acting as human shield “to protect terrorists”.

Hussein Abu Hussein, the family’s lawyer, said: “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.

“We knew from the beginning that we had an uphill battle to get truthful answers and justice, but we are convinced that this verdict distorts the strong evidence presented in court, and contradicts fundamental principles of international law with regard to protection of human rights defenders. In denying justice in Rachel Corrie’s killing, this verdict speaks to the systemic failure to hold the Israeli military accountable for continuing violations of basic human rights.”

Judge Oded Gershon of Hafia district council justified Corrie’s death by saying she could have lived had she fled the danger zone “as any reasonable person would have done”.

“I believe this was a bad day not only for our family, but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law and also for the country of Israel,” Cindy Corrie said after the verdict.

“Rachel’s right to life and dignity were violated by the Israeli military,” she added.

Cindy Corrie went on to say that Israel had a “well-heeled system” in place to ensure the immunity of government soldiers.

The move has been heavily criticised by politicians and activists around the world.

Bill Van Esveld of Human Rights Watch said the ruling “sets a dangerous precedent in its claim that there was no liability for Corrie’s death because the Israeli forces involved were conducting a ‘combat operation’ … The idea that there can be no fault for killing civilians in a combat operation flatly contradicts Israel’s international legal obligations to spare civilians from harm during armed conflict, and to credibly investigate and punish violations by its forces.”

Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, added: “The judge’s ruling today is outrageous in so many ways, not least of which is the criticising of Rachel and the maligning of the International Solidarity Movement in an effort to place blame on all but those who killed Rachel and worked to cover it up.

“These are the same institutions that continue to injure and kill thousands of innocent Palestinians with no accountability. Not only does today’s verdict mean that there is no justice for Rachel Corrie, but it also means that no human rights defender is safe from Israeli state violence.”

SNP MSP Humza Yousaf gave his support for Rachel Corrie on Twitter, adding “I’m an activist before I am an MSP”.

According to the family lawyer, an appeal will be made to the Israeli Supreme Court in the near future.