Rachel Corrie’s Family Protests Israeli Court’s Absolution of IOF Responsibility

Sarah, Craig and Cindy (R) Corrie, sister and parents of US peace activist Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer during a demonstration in Gaza in 2003, leave the Haifa District Court in the Israeli coastal city of Haifa on 28 August 2012. (Photo: AFP – Jack Guez)

Published Friday, February 13, 2015

The family of US activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting in 2003, have condemned the Israeli Supreme Court ruling that the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) were not responsible, accusing Israel of shielding its military from blame.

“It will take some time before we have the ability to read the decision in English and to process all the court has said,” Corrie’s parents and sister wrote in a statement published Friday.

“Nevertheless, it is clear that this decision, affirming the August 2012 lower court finding, amounts to judicial sanction of immunity for Israeli military forces when they commit injustices and human rights violations,” they added.

The Israeli Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal against the 2012 Haifa district court ruling rejecting a civil suit filed by the family.

It accepted the Haifa court’s finding that the site of the fatal incident, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, was a combat zone at the time.

“The ground-clearing actions during which Rachel was hit answer all criteria to categorize it as an action during wartime,” read a passage from the ruling, written in Hebrew by Justice Esther Hayut.

“The state is not liable for damages over an act committed by the Israeli Defense Forces [sic] during warfare,” the ruling stated.

According to eyewitness accounts, Corrie, 23, was killed while acting as a human shield with a group of activists from the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement to prevent troops from demolishing a Palestinian home.

The IOF report claimed “Rachel Corrie was not run over by an engineering vehicle but rather was struck by a hard object, most probably a slab of concrete which was moved or slid down while the mound of earth which she was standing behind was moved.”

The family first brought the case up in 2005, accusing Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their daughter. A military investigation absolved the IOF of responsibility, leading the family to launch a civil case in Haifa which ruled the murder as an accident.

“Rachel’s case provides yet another example of how the Israeli justice system is failing to provide accountability,” the family statement said.

“We urge the international community, and not least the US government, to stand with victims of human rights violations and against impunity, and to uphold fundamental tenets of international justice.”

An internal investigation by the Israeli military in 2003 was concluded just four weeks after her death and cleared troops of any responsibility, saying the bulldozer crew did not see Corrie.

Corrie’s killing came at the height of the Second Intifada, which began late 2000 as a reaction to Israeli policies and international law violations. It was triggered by Ariel Sharon’s visit to the al-Aqsa mosque, accompanied by around 1,000 police officers, during which he shouted “the Temple Mount is in our hands,” a phrase that was broadcast during 1967 war, when the Israeli army seized East Jerusalem. Palestinians reacted quickly to what they considered a threat to al-Aqsa, declaring the start of the uprising.

During the five-year Intifada, Israeli forces killed at least 4,973 Palestinian civilians. Among them were 1,262 children and 32 medical personnel attempting to administer aid to injured civilians. More than 10,000 children were wounded during the five years of violence, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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