Verdict on Rachel Corrie Case Could Set a Frightening Precedent for Israel's Military

31/08/2012 09:10 BST | Updated 29/10/2012 09:12 GMT

Reflecting upon the verdict given at a Haifa district court on Tuesday morning, essentially blaming the victim for her own death, the intransigency of Israel's politicised justice system was immediately exposed when the judge legitimised a legal avenue for Israel to exploit now and in any similar future case.

Styling his decision around propaganda frequently used by the Israeli State, judge Oded Gershon not only absolved Israel of any responsibility/wrongdoing but also laid the foundation that may well become a permissible albeit morally reprehensible loophole for the Israeli Military.

Contextualising his decision Gershon said that Corrie "was accidentally killed in the framework of a 'war-related activity' [as a result] Israel bears no responsibility for the damages inflicted on the plaintiffs resulting from a war-related action".

Adding to the verdict was the common claim against the International Solidarity Movement, which in my opinion is an attempted distraction which supposedly implying the nauseating idea that Rachel Corrie somehow deserved what happened to her. Demonstrating how this claim effects public opinion on a range of spectrums is straightforward when looking at the language of the Judge who in his verdict also noted Rachel's "involvement with the International Solidarity Movement, [adding that] ISM activists had even defended Palestinian families involved in terror, aiding, even if indirectly the activities of terrorists".

Compare this use of terms by the judge with a commenter who said that "Internationals should not be in war zones. Their safety cannot be guaranteed by anyone" and then goes on to make the insane claim that Rachel Corrie was "fighting on behalf of Palestinian terrorists and thus became a terrorist herself, she got what she deserved."

2012-08-29-BulldozerIbhonn1.jpg 2010: A friend clings to a Bulldozer as she protests in the WestBank village of Al-Wallaja while the driver looks on.

Seeing this mind-set laid out bare you may begin to understand the first segment of the precedent that is potentially already set here; Public opinion amongst those already of the predisposition of "Pro-Israel" has been given what is (for them) an acceptable set of statements that justifies and exonerates the Israeli state and Military.

For the sake of clarity I must emphasise that not all those who fall on the side of Israel share such despotic opinions, yet for the most part those of highest activity have used the repugnant argument cited and even more in an attempt to protect their perfect image of the 'Only democracy in the Middle East' which also has the most 'most moral army' in the region.

Allow me to affirm that as a Human Rights advocate and activist I am not a huge fan of the ISM but to their credit and Israel's continued dismay they are a group of international activists who are advocating nonviolent methods of resistance, in solidarity with Palestinians opposing the occupation both in the West Bank and Gaza before the disengagement of 2005.

Which if you really look at it is what Israelis supposedly always refer to in their rhetoric; For the 'enemies' [Palestinians] to abandon terrorism and violence in order to seek a peaceful solution. Unfortunately ISM have been continually demonised as meddlesome internationals sticking their oar in local affairs, most of whom are accused of anti-Semitism and of course must be supporters of terrorism due to their portrayal as allies of Hamas.

With at least some public acceptance of Gershon's verdict the next part of the precedent being set is a legal framework that interjects a false presumption about all Israeli military actions in a single verdict reading;

"Israel's military was acting in capacity of a military operation, [and] the state is not responsible because the incident occurred during a war-time situation... [and Corrie] was in a closed military zone"

Highlighting how this loophole works is slightly complex so I shall use another comment from an Israeli who tried to rationalise his feelings by way of an example;

"If I drive into an area knowing it to be an active artillery training range, and I get hurt as a result, I can blame no one but myself."

Strikingly this was part of a conversation about civilians in closed military zones (CMZ's) where he tried to combine the first rationale in this precedent (It was her own fault) with the evidence that puts the responsibility for safety in a designated CMZ with the civilians.

Thus we have an almost fully complete new precedent where there is potential for Israel to close the doors of justice to civilian victims of its own military.

Two problems arise to challenge this;

1. Israeli military law allows a commander to almost instantly declare any area on the map (In the occupied territories) a closed military zone without prior warning to civilians.

2. Duties of the occupying power spelled out primarily in the 1907 Hague Regulations (arts 42-56) and the Fourth Geneva Convention (GC IV, art. 27-34 and 47-78), as well as in certain provisions of Additional Protocol I and customary international humanitarian law dictate that the presence of a civilian in a combat zone does not in any way not affect their right to protection.

So a factually based example of the reality would be to say that If I drove into an area and the military [without advanced warning] suddenly declared it to be an active artillery training range, which is not marked as such, and I get hurt as a result, I can blame no one but the military responsible for its own gross negligence.

Rachel Corrie of course wasn't driving into an artillery range; she was utilizing nonviolence to resist an Israeli action which collectively punished over 1700 households in Rafah through a policy of House demolition (Also against International law).

Palestinians and Israel human rights activists have learned that justice cannot be obtained through the Israeli judicial system.

Amnesty International has condemned the Israeli court's decision labelling it as showing a lack of accountability of Israel's military. In fact several Human Rights groups have spoken out against this injustice stating that the court ruling 'flatly ignores international law'.

Corrie's parents have not received justice but other avenues including the option of using Israel's Supreme Court for an appeal exist. Dishearteningly this may take additional years to achieve.

It is there that any true precedent shall be set.