A Haifa District Court said yesterday that the US activist who was killed by an IDF bulldozer could have avoided the dangerous situation. “It was a very regrettable accident,” but not a deliberate unlawful act, Judge Oded Gershon said.
Invoking the ‘combatant activities’ exception, Judge Gershon noted that IDF forces were attacked in the same area in which Rachel Corrie was killed. Corrie, an American citizen, died after being hit by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian house in the Gazan town of Rafah during the Second Intifada.
The combatant activities exception states that a country’s armed forces cannot be held liable for civil damages for physical or economic harm to civilians in an area defined as a war zone. Israel’s Supreme Court had previously ruled that the Rafah area was a war zone during the Second Intifada, when the incident occurred.
Reading a summary of his 62-page decision, Judge Gershon described Israel’s investigation into the incident as appropriate and said it had not made any mistakes. The verdict was based on three different investigations that were presented to the court, all supporting the assessment that the driver could not spot Rachel Corrie and thus could not have prevented the accident.
Following yesterday’s ruling, the Corrie Family has vowed to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court. “I believe this was a bad day not only for our family, but for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law, and also for the country of Israel,” said Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, after the verdict was announced.