OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – An Israeli court on Tuesday, August 28, cleared Israel’s military of responsibility in the death of a US activist, who was crushed to death by an army bulldozer during a pro-Palestinian demonstration.
"I believe that this was a bad day not only for our family but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel," Cindy Corrie, the mother of American activist Rachel, said after the verdict, reported Reuters.
Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in 2003 during a protest against Israeli demolitions of Palestinian houses in Gaza during the height of Palestinian intifada (uprising).
|In Memory of Rachel Corrie (March 16)|
An army investigation cleared Israeli troops of Corrie’s death, saying the bulldozer’s crew did not see the American activist.
But her family filed a lawsuit in the northern city of Haifa to establish the Israeli army responsibility for Corrie’s death.
But the Supreme Court ruled that Corrie’s death was an “accident” that the activist “brought upon herself”.
"She did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done," judge Oded Gershon told a packed courtroom.
He argued that Israeli soldiers had done their utmost to keep people away from the site on the day of the protest.
"It was a very regrettable accident and not an intentional act," the judge said, dismissing any claims for damages.
The judge insisted that visibility had been poor and that Corrie had not been careful about where she had stood.
"The deceased put herself into a dangerous situation, she stood in front of a giant bulldozer in a place where the operator could not see her. She did not distance herself as a reasonable person would have done.”
Corrie's death made her a symbol of the Palestinian uprising against the decades-long Israeli occupation.
The story of the American activist was dramatized on stage in a dozen countries and told in the book "Let Me Stand Alone".
Corrie’s family accused the Israeli government of seeking to cover up the activist’s death.
"Rachel was a human being and we as her family deserved accountability," her mother Cindy said.
"The state has worked extremely hard to make sure that the full truth about what happened to my daughter is not exposed and that those responsible for the killing are not held accountable.”
Corrie’s father Craig expressed similar sentiments.
"We've seen from the highest levels of the military that they thought they could kill people on that border with impunity," he said.
Tom Dale, a former ISM activist who was 10 meters (33 feet) away when Corrie was crushed, insisted it was not possible that the driver did not see her.
"On 16 March 2003, Rachel could not have been more visible: standing, on a clear day, in the open ground, wearing a high-visibility vest," he said in a statement emailed to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"It is inconceivable that at some point the driver did not see her, given the distance from which he approached, while she stood, unmoving, in front of it.
"Just before she was crushed, Rachel briefly stood on top of the rolling mound of earth which had gathered in front of the bulldozer: her head was above the level of the blade, and just a few meters from the driver."
The Israeli verdict drew swift denunciation from Palestinians as “a miscarriage of justice”.
"This proves that once again, the occupation has distorted the legal and judicial systems in Israel, and that the lack of accountability for its violence and violations has generated a culture of hate and impunity," senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a strongly-worded statement.
She also lashed out at Washington over its "deafening" silence on the matter, saying it made the US administration complicit in Israel's crimes."In their lack of engagement and human empathy, both the legislative and executive branches are complicit in compounding the crime.”