An Israel court has ruled that the Israeli military was not at fault in the death of Rachel Corrie, an pro-Palestinian activist who was killed trying to stop the demolition of homes in the Gaza Strip in 2003. Corrie was a 23-year-old woman from Olympia, Washington, when she traveled to Gaza as a member of the International Solidarity Movement, which organizes non-violent protests on behalf of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. The group also sometimes served as human shields to deter operations by the Israel Defense Forces. Corrie was attempting to block the destruction of a Palestinian home in March 2003, when she was run over and killed by an IDF bulldozer.
Corrie's parents sued the IDF, accusing them of negligence and asking only for a symbolic amount of $1 in damages. However, Judge Oded Gershon ruled yesterday that the IDF was not at fault, saying that it was an accident that Corrie "brought upon herself" by entering a restricted area and putting herself in harm's way. The demolition of housing was a common tactic during the Intifada of 2000-2005, which the IDF argued it was necessary to root out terrorist activity.
The government claimed that the bulldozer driver could not see Corrie, even though she was wearing a bright orange jacket and carrying a megaphone at the time. They also claimed that she was killed by falling debris, not the bulldozer itself. The case became a major international incident that launched a fierce debate between human right activists condemning the Israel government's occupation policies and Israeli supporters who said she behaved recklessly and unwittingly (or deliberately) aided terrorists.
Corrie's mother, Cindy, said she was "deeply saddened and deeply troubled" by the verdict which came from a legal system designed "to protect its soldiers and provide them with immunity." The family spent hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to fight the case overseas.