FAMILY APPEALS DECISION EXONERATING ISRAELI MILITARY IN STUDENT ACTIVIST’S DEATH
BY ISSAC SCOTT
Eleven years after Rachel Corrie’s death, the Israeli Supreme Court heard arguments appealing the decision that found the Israeli military was not responsible for the death of the Evergreen student in 2003.
On May 21, the Corrie family went before the Supreme Court, continuing their effort to win a symbolic $1 settlement for the death of their daughter.
“Its an uphill battle, but the ongoing lawsuit can be a tool to show Americans what is happening in the occupation,” said Kristina Eriksson, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group at Evergreen. “It is clear, I think, that the subject of Palestine is deliberately removed from the mainstream media.”
Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer in the West Bank in Palestine in 2003. She was part of a team of human rights activists stationed in the occupied territories attempting to nonviolently prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes.
In 2012, a lower court in Haifa, Israel ruled that the Israeli military was not negligently responsible for Corrie’s death.
Judge Oden Gershon rejected the civil lawsuit filed against the state of Israel by Rachel’s parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie. The Corries accused the Israeli military of either intentionally killing Rachel or gross negligence in her death. In the 2012 ruling, Judge Gershon found that the military was not responsible, and argued that Corrie could reasonably have saved herself by moving out of the path of the bulldozer.
The ruling upheld the state’s case that by entering into the conflict area, Corrie was responsible for her own death. It also upheld the military’s argument that everyone in Gaza is a military target, including peace activists.
[quote]Its an uphill battle, but the ongoing lawsuit can be a tool to show Americans what is happening in the occupation.” – Kristina Eriksson[/quote]
The original civil suit stemmed from the Israeli military’s internal investigation into the incident, which exonerated the military of any wrongdoing. Following Corrie’s death, then-president of Israeli Ariel Sharon promised the United States government a thorough and transparent investigation of the tragedy.
Critics, including the U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, have raised concern about the validity of the investigation.
The 2012 verdict was condemned by human rights groups around the world, including by former President of the United States Jimmy Carter. “The court’s decision confirms a climate of impunity, which facilitates Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territory,” Carter said in a statement in 2012.
“It is a tragedy when the law is broken, but far, far worse when it is abandoned altogether,” Craig Corrie said in a statement released by the Rachel Corrie Foundation. “The Supreme Court now has a choice, to either show the world that the Israeli legal system honors the most basic principles of human rights and can hold its military accountable, or to add to mounting evidence that justice can not be found in Israel.”