An Israeli court which ruled the state is not to blame for the death of Rachel Corrie has reignited the debate over human rights in Israel, and whether a pro-Palestinian group bears blame for putting Corrie in harm's way.
Cindy and Craig Corrie, who lost their civil suit against the State of Israel and the Israeli army for causing the wrongful death of their daughter, said Tuesday's verdict was "a bad day, not only for our family, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel.
"As a family, we've had to push for answers, accountability and justice."
Corrie, 23, was killed in 2003 after acting as a "human shield" attempting to stop Palestinian home demolitions during the second intifada.
The bulldozer driver, who apparently ran over Corrie, said he did not see her, and the army ruled she was killed by a slab of concrete falling on her.
Witnesses said she wore a hi-visibility jacket, in clear view of the driver.
Bill Van Esveld of Human Rights Watch, said the verdict "set 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.
"Military investigators repeatedly failed to take statements from witnesses, to follow up with the witness's lawyer, and to re-interview witnesses to clarify discrepancies."
Edith Garwood, Israel and Palestine specialist at Amnesty International, wrote in a blog describing how "shoddy investigations were rubber stamped and that Israeli military impunity has been preserved."
She said the verdict would "implicitly declare ‘open season’ not only on nonviolent Palestinian and Israeli human rights activists, but also on international human rights defenders as well."
But Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, said Corrie's parents should now shift their focus towards the pro-Palestinian group International Solidarity Movement that Corrie had volunteered with, suggesting they may have deliberately put her in harm's way to garner more publicity for their cause.
He said: "Rachel Corrie's death was a tragedy, but it could have been prevented. Leaders of the ISM movement have repeatedly made statements in support of violence."
“ISM describes itself as 'a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles.'
"ISM's cynical and immoral strategy endangers the lives of its members. ISM co-founder Thomas Saffold showed an utter lack of regret over Corrie's death, boasting afterwards that 'we're like a peace army. Generals send young men and women off to operations, and some die.'
“Her bereaved parents should address the ISM for causing her wrongful death, and not target the IDF that is charged with protecting Israeli civilians against terrorism.
"Despite the casualties, ISM continues to encourage activists’ entry into conflict zones, further endangering them.
"Rachel Corrie’s parents are compounding the tragedy by lending their names to the immoral campaigns to demonise Israel."
Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of ISM, called the ruling "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."
A spokesman for the Israeli foreign 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.
"This verdict is based on three different investigations that were presented to the court by The State Prosecutor's Office making it clear that the driver could not spot Ms Corrie and thus could not have avoided this tragic accident.
"More so, an expert who testified on behalf of the Corrie family also noted that the driver could not and did not see Ms Corrie due to the nature of the vehicle he was operating.
"Furthermore, the action described in the suit was "a military action in the course of war" according to all criteria and that the state [therefore the Defence Ministry] is exempt from responsibility for it.
"The security forces at the Philadelphi Corridor during 2003 were compelled to carry out 'leveling' work against explosive devices that posed a tangible danger to life and limb and were not in any form posing a threat to Palestinian homes.
"The work was done while exercising maximum caution and prudence and without the ability to foresee harming anyone."