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Rachel Corrie death: Israel rejects all blame

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

From time to time, the Palestine Center distributes articles it believes will enhance understanding of the Palestinian political reality. The following article by Adrian Blomfield was published by The Telegraph on 28 August 2012.  

"Rachel Corrie death: Israel rejects all blame"

By Adrian Blomfield

The parents of Corrie fought back tears as a judge fully absolved the Israeli army for the death of their daughter as she tried to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian house in Gaza in 2003.

Rejecting the Corrie family’s civil suit against the state, Oded Gershon accepted the army’s argument that the driver of the bulldozer had not seen the 23-year-old activist. He proceeded to criticise Corrie for putting herself in harm’s way.

“She chose to put herself in danger,” Mr Gershon told the district court in Haifa. “She stood in front of a giant bulldozer in a place where the operator could not see her. She could have easily distanced herself from danger like any reasonable person would.

“Her death is the result of an accident she brought upon herself.”

Visibly distraught by the ruling, which comes seven years after they first filed their suit, Corrie’s parents promised to appeal in an effort to keep alive their long campaign to hold Israel to account.

“We are, of course, deeply saddened and deeply troubled by what we heard today,” her mother Cindy said. “I believe this was a bad day – not only for our family but for human rights, the rule of law, and also for the country of Israel.”

The death of Corrie badly damaged Israel’s international reputation and strained relations with the US, its superpower patron.

Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel, told the Corrie family last week that Washington remained dissatisfied with the way Israel had handled the incident. He has previously said that Israel’s investigation of her death had been neither credible nor transparent.

But the court ruled that a military police investigation in the weeks after Corrie’s death, which found that she had been killed as a result of her own irresponsible behaviour, had been properly conducted.

Fellow activists from International Solidarity Movement, the group for which Corrie campaigned, have long rejected the official Israeli explanation.

Tom Dale, a British former activist who was just 30 feet away when Corrie was crushed, said that it was impossible for the driver of the bulldozer not to have seen her, pointing out that she wore a fluorescent vest and was standing on raised ground.

Whatever one thinks about the visibility from a D9 bulldozer, 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,” he said in a statement.

“As I told the court, just before she was crushed, Rachel briefly stood on top of the rolling mound of earth which had gathered in from of the bulldozer: her head was above the level of the blade and just a few metres from the driver.”

The Corrie family’s lawyer accused the court of allowing impunity to prevail over accountability.

“Rachel Corrie was killed while non-violently protesting home demolitions and injustice in Gaza and today this court has given its stamp of approval to flawed and illegal practices that failed to protect civilian life,” Hussein Abu Hussein said.

“This verdict speaks to the systematic failure to hold the Israeli military accountable for continuing violations of basic human rights.”

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.

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To view this article online, please go to: 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/9502690/Rachel-Corrie-death-Israel-rejects-all-blame.html
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