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Israeli Court Says Military Not At Fault Over U.S. Activist's Death

  • RFE/RL

A Palestinian supporter holds up a placard showing Rachel Corrie during a demonstration in the southern Gaza Strip. (file photo)

A Palestinian supporter holds up a placard showing Rachel Corrie during a demonstration in the southern Gaza Strip. (file photo)

An Israeli court has ruled that the Israeli military was not at fault in the death of a U.S. activist who was crushed to death by an army bulldozer during a 2003 pro-Palestinian demonstration.

Rachel Corrie's family had accused the military of intentionally and unlawfully killing their 23-year-old daughter.

The family brought a civil lawsuit of negligence against the Defense Ministry after a military investigation cleared the army of wrongdoing. They were asking for the symbolic sum of $1, plus legal expenses.

The court in the northern city of Haifa rejected the lawsuit, calling Corrie's death a "regrettable incident" but saying the military was not to blame because the death occurred during "wartime actions."

Rachel Corrie's mother, Cindy, speaking at a press conference in Haifa, said she was "deeply troubled" by the court ruling.

"I believe that this was a bad day, not only for our family, but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law, and also for the country of Israel," she said.

Corrie was killed while trying to stop the army from demolishing Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

An Israeli Army investigation was closed several months after her death with no disciplinary action, saying the bulldozer driver could not see Corrie because she was behind a mound of rubble.

Activists who were with her at the time said she was clearly visible and accused the army of destroying key video evidence.

The army initially said Corrie died after being struck by building materials and not by the bulldozer.

The military also accused Corrie and other activists from the International Solidarity Movement of "illegal and irresponsible behavior" contributing to her death.

For her supporters, Corrie quickly became a symbol of the Palestinian uprising. A 2005 play based on her e-mails and diary has toured the world, including performances in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

A lawyer for the Corries said the latest court ruling was based on "distorted facts." He said the family would appeal.

Corrie's father and mother had traveled to Haifa for the August 28 hearing accompanied by some 50 friends and supporters.



With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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