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Israeli Judge: State Not Responsible for Rachel Corrie's Death

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2012-08-28-CorriesinHaifaCourt28.08.12.JPG Sarah, Craig, and Cindy Corrie in court awaiting the verdict in Rachel's case. Credits: The Rachel Corrie Foundation
After waiting for almost ten years for todays court verdict the family of Rachel Corrie have left an Israeli court in Haifa this morning feeling the bitter sting of injustice from Israel's politicised justice system.

Early Tuesday morning the Israeli court rejected accusations that Israel was at fault over the death of US citizen Rachel, who was crushed by an army bulldozer during a 2003 pro-Palestinian demonstration in the occupied Gaza strip.

Summarising a 62-page verdict the Israeli Judge Oded Gershon noted Rachel's "involvement with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)" adding that "ISM activists had even defended Palestinian families involved in terror, aiding, even if indirectly the activities of terrorists"

Further into the court decision the Judge absolved the Israeli Military of its actions by claiming in his decision that, "The army had not been involved in demolishing houses, just clearing an area of places from which IDF had been attacked".

According to the Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem, from 2000-04 the Israeli military demolished around 1,700 homes in Rafah, leaving about 17,000 people homeless. Corrie was one in a group of international activists non-violently protesting against the demolitions. According to witness statements made at the time and evidence given in court, she climbed a mound of earth in the path of an Caterpillar bulldozer.

Claims that the judge appeared to have already adopted Israeli state rhetoric by attempting to malign ISM were already appearing in social media at this point in the verdict while the judge repeated the IDF's claim that the driver of the bulldozer had not seen Rachel.

Corrie's family had accused Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their 23-year-old daughter, when they launched their civil lawsuit against the state of Israel as an "absolute last resort". The case opened at Haifa district court in March 2010 after a military investigation had cleared the army of wrong-doing.

Judge Gershon delivered the final verdict saying that "the state is not liable for what occurred during 'combatant activities'" he further decided that "Israel's investigation was appropriate and had no mistakes".

The decision made clears the IDF of responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie as the judge placed blame with the victim saying "Rachel could have avoided danger with no problem" concluding that there is "no negligence from IDF" and that the "IDF didn't violate Rachel's right to life, rather she injected herself into a dangerous situation, it was the negligence of deceased what caused death".

Coming to a final conclusion the judge said "Israel's military was acting in capacity of a military operation, Rachel Corrie found her death by choice" ruling that what occurred was a "regrettable accident", but that the state was "not responsible" because the incident had occurred during what he termed a war-time situation.

Outright rejecting the suit the judge further added that "There is no justification to demand the state pay any damages."

"I am hurt," Corrie's mother, Cindy, told reporters after the verdict was read.

A press statement by the corries attorney, Hussein Abu Hussein read:

"While not surprising, 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."

Reactions on Twitter varied but a prominent point was made by journalist and blogger Joseph Dana who said "Israel has been arguing for years that Palestinians and their supporters must adopt non-violence. This is exactly what Rachel Corrie did".

This devastating verdict raises new questions over whether this ruling will allow the IDF to misuse their ability to simply declare everywhere a closed military zone in order to be absolved from prosecution for harming civilian life. Having absolved its soldiers of murdering a non-violent activist this leaves a massive gap in what some have previously regarded as a fair and just legal system.

Having waited 10 years the Corries still don't have justice for their daughter.

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