The Haifa District Court on Tuesday ruled against the family of Rachel Corrie, the American pro-Palestinian activist struck and killed by a bulldozer in Gaza.
In the verdict, Judge Oded Gershon invoked the principle of the combatant activities exception, noting that IDF forces had been attacked in the same area Corrie was killed just hours earlier.
Corrie, 23, from Olympia, Washington, died in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 16, 2003, when an IDF bulldozer struck her during a protest by pro-Palestinian group the International Solidarity Movement.
Reading a summary of his 62-page decision, the judge described Israel\’s investigation into the incident as appropriate and said it had no mistakes.
Asserting that Corrie could have avoided danger, he dismissed claims that the IDF was negligent in the incident and denied the family\’s suit for symbolic damages. The IDF did not violate Corrie\’s right to life, he continued, asserting that she inserted herself into a dangerous situation.
The state, he continued, was not responsible for any "damages caused" due to the combat situation but nonetheless called Corrie\’s death a "regrettable accident."
"I am hurt," Corrie\’s mother, Cindy, told reporters after the verdict was read.
Speaking outside the courtroom minutes after the verdict was released, an attorney representing the Corrie family in the case said the court endorsed the violation of Rachel\’s human rights,.
The court\’s decision, Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein noted that the verdict was so close to the state\’s position that state attorneys could have authored it themselves.
Rachel\’s mother Cindy said she was deeply saddened by the verdict.
"From the beginning it was clear that there is a system to protect soldiers and provide them with impunity at the cost of civilians," she told reporters outside the court. "Now we now that the protection for soldiers extends to the court."
Saying that US diplomacy and the Israeli court system failed her family, Cindy Corrie added that there was never a credible investigation into her daughter\’s death.
However, she continued, "At least we have had access to a court system, which most Palestinians are denied."
Corrie was protesting injustice in Gaza when she was run over and killed by an IDF bulldozer, the attorney said, accusing the state and IDF of violating her human rights.
Corrie’s family filed the civil suit against the Defense Ministry in the district court seven years ago. They claim that the IDF either deliberately killed Corrie or is at least guilty of gross negligence.
Senior US officials criticised the original military investigation into the case, saying it had been neither thorough nor credible. But the judge said the inquiry had been appropriate and pinned no blame on the army.
Immediately after the trial ended in July, Corrie’s family alleged that important evidence, including several surveillance tapes from the time Corrie died, were withheld as part of a coverup over the circumstances of her death.
Among the evidence the family claims has been withheld from the civil suit are surveillance tapes that show color footage of events before and after Corrie’s death.
The color footage was used in a Channel 2 documentary, but the IDF has denied that the color footage exists, the family claims.
IDF officials did submit as evidence a black and white surveillance video with footage from immediately before and after Corrie’s death.
The family also claims there are discrepancies between a photograph of the bulldozer that they say killed Corrie taken by International Solidarity Movement activists, and a bulldozer shown on footage presented by the IDF.