Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Haifa court rules against Rachel Corrie family in suit



Judge Oded Gershon invokes "combatant activities" exception, says Corrie could have avoided the dangerous situation but calls her death a "regrettable accident," criticizes US for not observing autopsy.

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.

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.

Saying that Corrie could have avoided danger, he dismissed claims that the IDF was negligent in the incident. 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."

In his verdict, Judge Gershon also criticized the United States for not sending a diplomatic representative to observe the autopsy conducted on Corrie.

Corrie, 23, from Olympia, Washington, died in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 16, 2003, when a bulldozer struck her during a protest by pro-Palestinian group the International Solidarity Movement.

Corrie’s family filed the civil suit against the Defense Ministry in the district court five years ago. They claim that the IDF either deliberately killed Corrie or is at least guilty of gross negligence.

Senior IDF officials including Col. Pinhas Zuaretz, the former commander of the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade, have testified in the trial.

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.

Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.


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