- The Haifa District Court ruled against the family of Rachel Corrie, an American pro-Palestinian activist who died after being struck by a bulldozer in Gaza in 2003.
- The family claimed compensation for Corrie’s death, arguing that Israel acted unlawfully. The court found no evidence to support these claims.
- Doubt was cast over the Israeli army’s investigation of the case but the court upheld the credibility and rigour of three reports that have looked into Corrie’s death.
What are the latest developments?
- Today (28 August 2012) the Haifa District Court reached a verdict in the suit submitted by the parents of Rachel Corrie against the Israeli Defence Ministry. The court found that Ms. Corrie’s death was a “regrettable accident” but that no unlawful action caused her death.
- Rachel Corrie volunteered, as part of the International Solidarity Movement, in the Gaza Strip in 2003. Corrie, an American citizen, died after being hit by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian house in the town of Rafah.
- Corrie’s family requested a symbolic $1 in damages and legal expenses. They had accused Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their daughter, and failing to conduct a full and credible investigation.
- The verdict is based on three different investigations that were presented to the court, all supporting the assessment that the driver could not spot Ms. Corrie and thus could not have prevented the accident.
- In addition, Judge Oded Gershon invoked the principle of the combatant activities exception, noting that IDF forces had been attacked in the same area Corrie was killed in just hours earlier. These conditions complicate the military’s ability to prevent harm to those who insert themselves knowingly into a combat zone.
What is the background and significance of the case?
- The incident that led to Corrie’s death took place at the height of the Second Intifada, at a time when intense fighting was taking place between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
- To minimise the ability of militants to use the dense built environment against Israeli forces, the Israeli army cleared certain areas, including, at times, houses used to shield terrorists. International activists present in Gaza at the time sought to prevent these activities by acting as ‘human shields’.
- The incident also raised questions about the investigation procedures of the Israeli military. Senior US officials criticised the original military investigation into the case, saying it had been neither thorough nor credible. The court ruling today (28 August 2012) found no evidence to support these claims.