Today, a civil court in Israel issued a verdict in the 2003 death of Rachel Corrie. Judge Oded Gershon of Haifa District Court concluded that Rachel’s death was not caused by the negligence of the Israeli state or army. Rachel, a nonviolent 23-year-old activist, was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer while trying to physically protect Palestinian homes in the Gaza strip from destruction by Israeli Defense Forces.
Grassroots International partner, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, condemned Judge Gershon’s verdict as continuing impunity for the death of Rachel Corrie. According to PCHR, “This decision by Israel’s courts is just one of the many extending immunity to Israel’s forces,” said PCHR director, Raji Sourani. Nikhil Aziz, executive director of Grassroots International, echoed Raji’s sentiments, “This is a sad day for justice and for the Israeli justice system, which has increasingly come down on the side of impunity for state actions that violate human rights.”
For Rachel’s parents, today’s verdict reflects a nearly decade-long ordeal. They have sat through military investigations and proceedings in an effort to get accountability and justice for their daughter. When these investigations revealed half-truths, and when the military proceeding blamed Rachel’s “own reckless negligence for her death,” the Corries turned to a civil action against the Israeli State as a last resort. The Corries have vowed to appeal today’s verdict.
Regardless of today’s verdict, this is a landmark case marking the first time a civil suit has been brought against the Israeli State for the death of a civilian by its military forces during the occupation. The fact that this case was heard in civilian court opens the door for others to file similar claims against the Israeli State.
As they pursue accountability and justice for their daughter, the Corries will also continue accompanying Palestinians in their struggle for peace with justice through the Rachel Corrie Foundation.