The parents of Rachel Corrie are planning to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court following the ruling of the Haifa District Court that the death of their 23-year-old daughter in 2003 was an accident.
In a long and detailed verdict that summed up two-and-a-half years of a legal suit brought by the Corrie family against the Israeli state, Judge Oded Gershon wrote: “The deceased had put herself in a dangerous situation.
The death was caused by an accident that the deceased brought upon herself, despite all the attempts of the IDF force to distance her and her friends from the place”.
This ruling is the latest twist in the nine-year saga following the death of the American activist, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who was trying to block IDF bulldozers near Rafah, close to the Egyptian border.
Corrie’s family and friends have contended that she was protesting against house demolitions, illegal according to international law, and that there was no way that the bulldozer operator could not have seen her before she was crushed to death.
The judge, however, accepted the IDF version of events, writing in his ruling that “it was a scene of daily war, meaning daily sniper shooting, firing of missiles, explosions of devices against IDF forces. Only combat soldiers were fighting in the area.” He also noted that, at the time, civilians were forbidden from entering the area and that a US State Department travel advisory warning its citizens from visiting the Gaza Strip was in place.
Corrie’s mother, Cindy, responded to the ruling saying: “This was a bad day, not only for our family, but for human-rights, humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel.” Her sister, Sarah, said: “I believe without doubt that my sister was seen as the driver approached her.” The family’s lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, confirmed that they would continue fighting the case and would appeal to the Supreme Court.
The US State Department has said in the past that it does not believe the military investigation carried out by the IDF in the wake of Corrie’s death was sufficiently thorough or transparent. This position was reiterated last week by Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel, in a meeting with the Corrie family.
Following the ruling, the State Department did not express an opinion. A spokeswoman merely said: “We understand the family’s disappointment with the outcome of the trial”, adding that they would continue to support them in an appeal.
ISM responded with a statement saying that “the verdict is a green light for Israeli soldiers to use lethal force against human rights defenders and puts Palestinian and International human rights defenders in mortal danger”.