The family of American pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie expressed disappointment at an Israeli court decision that cleared the state of responsibility, calling it a “bad day” for humanity.
“We are of course deeply saddened and deeply troubled by what we heard today from Judge Oded Gershon,” Cindy Corrie told reporters following the verdict. “This was a bad day not only for our family but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law and also for the country of Israel.”
A district court in Haifa dismissed all charges against the state in a civil suit brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie, an American activist killed in Gaza after being run over by an Israeli military bulldozer.
Corrie, then 23, was an activist with the International Solidarity Movement, which protests on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. On March 16, 2003, she was acting as a human shield for a Gaza house set to be demolished by an armored bulldozer. She became enveloped in the pile of dirt created by the bulldozer as it moved toward the house, and died soon afterwards in a hospital nearby.
Her parents sued the state for responsibility in her death, claiming that the bulldozer advanced despite knowing that Corrie was in its path.
But in his verdict on Tuesday, Judge Oded Gershon ruled that the state was not responsible for Corrie’s death. He said that Corrie entered the Gaza Strip despite knowing it was a war zone with live fire being exchanged daily. In addition, he cited a warning from the U.S. urging American citizens not to enter the Gaza Strip.
Gershon also said that because Corrie was standing behind the pile of dirt created by the bulldozer, the driver could not see her. The judge added that instead of moving away from the bulldozer as it advanced “as any reasonable person would do,” Corrie attempted to climb onto the pile of dirt the bulldozer created.
“The party put herself in a dangerous situation opposite a bulldozer when he couldn’t see her,” Gershon said. “She didn’t move away like anyone of sound mind would. She found her death even after all of the IDFs efforts to move her from the place.”
Gershon also dismissed charges that the state tampered with the evidence in an investigation into Corrie’s death.
The attorney for Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy, called the verdict a “failure to hold the Israeli military accountable.”
“This court has given a stamp of approval to the flouting of illegal practices that fail to protect human life,” the attorney, Hussein Abu Hussein, said.
A lawyer for the state, Nirit Kalman, said, “We showed there was no negligence.”