On March 16th, 2003 Rachel Corrie was trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family's home without resorting to violence, when she was run over by an Israeli bulldozer. When a military investigation cleared the army of any wrong-doing , in 2005 Corrie's family launched a civil case in the northern Israeli city Haifa, accusing Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their 23-year-old daughter and failing to conduct a full and credible investigation.
Today's ruling by Judge Oded Gershon said Corrie's death was a "regrettable accident", and invoked a clause that absolved the army because the incident happened during a war-time situation, adding that the activist had ignored warnings to leave the area.Corrie came from Olympia, Washington, and was a volunteer with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement. She had been wearing a bright orange vest at the time of the incident but the bulldozer driver said he never saw her. Onlookers said she had been standing on a mound of earth when the bulldozer advanced and that she had lost her footing as the ground moved. They said they had shouted at the driver to stop but that he ignored their cries. Israel said the bulldozer driver had not seen Corrie during the demolition and that she had been killed by a falling slab of concrete.
Witnesses said Corrie had been wearing an orange vest that had made her plainly visible. The bulldozer driver, a former army reservist who testified behind a screen in 2010 to hide his identity, replied "I don't remember" when asked by the family's lawyer if he recalled seeing a young woman in the brightly coloured jacket.At the time of her death, during a Palestinian uprising, Corrie was protesting against Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip action that was also condemned by the United Nations. Corrie's death made her a symbol of the uprising.
The Corrie family's lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, said the court verdict contradicted "the fundamental principles of international law with regard to protection of human rights defenders". Abu Hussein said Corrie had been taking part in a non-violent protest and accused the court of providing impunity to the army.
"WHAT ANY THINKING PERSON WOULD DO"
"I reject the suit," the judge said in a ruling read out to a packed courtroom. "There is no justification to demand the state pay any damages," he said, dismissing the family request. He said soldiers had done their utmost to keep people away from the site on the day of the protest in March 2003. "She did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done."
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