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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Israel court rules it was not at fault in 2003 death of U.S. activist killed by army bulldozer

By MATTHEW KALMAN

DAILY MAIL, 28 August 2012

An Israeli judge has ruled that the death of pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003 was an accident

An Israeli judge has ruled that the death of pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003 was an accident
An Israeli judge has ruled that the death of pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003 was an accident that she had brought on herself by entering a closed military zone at the height of the second intifada.
Corrie was 23 when she was killed in March 2003 as she and other members of the International Solidarity Movement acted as human shields to prevent the bulldozing of Palestinian homes in Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border.
The Israeli army said the buildings were being used to attack Israeli soldiers and as covers for entrances to weapons smuggling tunnels beneath the border.
Judge Oded Gershon dismissed a civil lawsuit brought by Corrie’s family against the state of Israel claiming symbolic damages of $1. 'I reject the suit,' the judge said. 'There is no justification to demand the state pay any damages.'
Reading from his 162-page verdict, the judge told the Haifa District Court that Corrie’s death was a 'regrettable accident' but could have been avoided if she had obeyed warning signs and a travel ban on the Gaza Strip issued by the US to its citizens.
The area had been formally declared 'a closed military zone' by the Israeli army, banning all civilians from entering.
'She did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done," he said.
He rejected the claim of negligence, saying the driver of the bulldozer could not see her. 'She consciously put herself in harm’s way,' Gershon said.
The driver testified that he did not see Corrie or even know he had hit her until after the accident.
The judge slammed the International Solidarity Movement, saying it 'abuses the human rights discourse to blur its actions which are de facto violence.'
The judge continued: 'This included an army of activists serving as 'human shields' for terrorists wanted by Israeli security forces, financial and logistical aid to Palestinians including terrorists and their families.'

Activist: Rachel Corrie is seen confronting an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah in 2003
Activist: Rachel Corrie is seen confronting an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah in 2003
Her mother, Cindy Corrie, who was in court to hear the verdict with her husband and surviving daughter, said the family would appeal to Israel’s high court.
'I am hurt,' Mrs Corrie said after the verdict. 'We are deeply saddened and troubled by what we heard today in the court. This was a bad day, not only for us, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and the country of Israel.'
'We believe Rachel Corrie was seen. Everything through this process confirmed at least one soldier saw her.
'We believe the bulldozer driver had the ability and responsibility to see what was in front of his machine,' she said.
The Corrie family said the judge had effectively whitewashed an earlier military investigation that was not the 'thorough, credible and transparent' probe promised by the Israeli government.
US diplomats, who were in court to hear the verdict, had also complained that the Israeli army had failed to properly investigate the incident.
'We believe the decision does not comply with international law,' said the Corrie family’s lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, vowing to appeal the verdict to Israel’s highest court.

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