Israeli Court Rejects Suit Over US Activist Death

Posted August 28th, 2012 at 4:40 am (UTC-5)
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An Israeli court Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought against the military by the family of a U.S. activist crushed to death by an army bulldozer during a 2003 pro-Palestinian protest in the Gaza Strip.

Rachel Corrie's family had accused Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their 23-year-old daughter, launching a civil case in the northern Israeli city of Haifa after a military investigation had cleared the army of wrong-doing.

In his ruling, Judge Oded Gershon called Corrie's death a “regrettable accident,” but said the state was not responsible because the incident had occurred during what he termed a war-time situation.

He said Corrie entered the Gaza Strip despite knowing it was a war zone with live fire being exchanged daily. He also cited a warning from the U.S. urging American citizens not to enter Gaza.

Gershon ruled that the military had conducted a proper investigation, and denied the family's request for a symbolic $1 in damages and legal expenses.

The bulldozer driver has said he did not see Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist who opposed the military's demolition of Palestinian homes.

The military deemed her death to be accidental, but Corrie's parents were not satisfied by the army probe and filed a civil lawsuit in 2005.

Activists with Corrie at the time said she was clearly visible to the driver of the military bulldozer.

Corrie's parents travelled from the United States to be present in court for the verdict. After the ruling was announced, Corrie's mother, Cindy Corrie, told reporters “we believe Rachael was seen.” She said civilians in Gaza “have rights and deserve protection.”

The home demolitions were part of an unsuccessful campaign to halt hundreds of shooting and mortar attacks against soldiers and Jewish settlers in southern Gaza, along the border with Egypt. On the day Rachel Corrie died, she and other activists had entered a closed military zone to protest the demolition policy.

According to the U.N. agency handling Palestinian refugees, the military had left more than 17,000 Gazans homeless in the four years after a Palestinian uprising against Israel erupted in September, 2000. The demolitions drew international condemnation at the time.