verdict announced in civil suit brought by family of international solidarity movement activist rachel corrie

by Tim Phillips

An Israeli army bulldozer ran over U.S. activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza on March 16, 2003, killing her. Corrie, who was 23 years old, was attempting to prevent the Israeli military from demolishing a Palestinian family’s home. In the middle of a memorial service days after her death, an Israeli tank attacked mourners with tear gas, gunfire, and percussion bombs.

The Israeli army’s inquiry into Corrie’s death was clearly insufficient, so her family brought a civil suit against the Israeli government in March 2005 as a last resort, claiming the bulldozer drivers either saw her in advance or were criminally negligent. The family spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hiring Hebrew-to-English translators, flying in witnesses, and traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Israel. Today Judge Oded Gershon ruled against them.

The family’s attorney said they would appeal the decision to Israel’s Supreme Court. Notably, of all the civil suits filed regarding foreigners who Israel’s military has harmed, this was the first to conclude via a full civilian trial. Other viable cases have settled (e.g., the suit brought by the family of James Miller) or have yet to resolve (e.g., the suit brought by Tristan Anderson).

Meanwhile, Israel’s demolition of Palestinian and Bedouin homes and structures in the West Bank has increased in 2012, displacing more than 600 Palestinians, and 71,000 housing units are needed in Gaza. After President Obama demanded a total Israeli settlement freeze in June 2009, he quickly gave in to AIPAC pressure. As Corrie wrote in an email to her mother on February 27, 2003, roughly two weeks before she was killed:

This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop.