Israeli court clears army in US activist's death

An Israeli court on Tuesday cleared the military of any responsibility for the death of US activist Rachel Corrie who was killed by an army bulldozer in 2003, rejecting a civil suit filed by the family.

The ruling sparked an angry reaction from the Corrie family, with Rachel’s mother, Cindy Corrie, accusing the Israeli authorities of a cover-up.

“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,” she told reporters after the hearing.

And a British peace activist who witnessed her death first hand, insisted it was “inconceivable” that the driver of the bulldozer did not see her, as found by the judge. “I reached the conclusion that there was no negligence on the part of the bulldozer driver,” said Judge Oded Gershon at the District Court in the northern city of Haifa. Corrie’s death,
he said, was the result of “an accident she brought upon herself.”

“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,” he said.

According to eyewitness accounts, the 23-year-old was killed by a military bulldozer in
Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003. At the time, she was acting as a human shield with a group of activists from the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement to prevent troops from demolishing a house.

The verdict echoed the findings of an internal investigation by the Israeli military in 2003 which was concluded just four weeks after her death and cleared troops of any responsibility, saying the bulldozer crew did not see Corrie.

The family vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court. “The verdict is based upon distorted facts and could have been written by the state’s attorney,” their lawyer Hussein Abu Hussein told reporters as Corrie’s father Craig stood by stony-face while her mother looked heartbroken and close to tears.

Cindy Corrie said the family was “deeply saddened” over the verdict. “We believe that Rachel’s death could and should have been avoided,” said the white-haired American, her voice breaking with emotion.

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