Israeli court verdict 'blames the victim'

An Israeli court has rejected a lawsuit brought against the military by the parents of a US activist crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer as she tried to block its path in the Gaza Strip.

The bulldozer driver has said he did not see 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist who opposed the military’s demolition of Palestinian homes.

The military deemed her death in March 2003 to be accidental, but Ms Corrie’s parents were not satisfied by the army investigation and filed a civil lawsuit against the military two years later.

But an Israeli civilian court rejected the Corries’ request for a symbolic one US dollar in damages and legal expenses.

Explaining the district court’s ruling, judge Oded Gershon said Ms Corrie “put herself in a dangerous situation” and called her death “the result of an accident she brought upon herself”.

He said the military carried out a proper investigation.

Ms Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, did not speak immediately after the verdict, but clasped each other’s hands.

Their lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, lamented the court’s ruling, saying “the verdict blames the victim”.

”While not surprising, this verdict is yet another example of where impunity has prevailed over accountability and fairness,” he said.

”Rachel Corrie was killed while non-violently protesting home demolitions and injustice in Gaza, and today this court has given its stamp of approval to flawed and illegal practices that failed to protect civilian life.”

The home demolitions were part of an unsuccessful campaign to halt hundreds of shooting and mortar attacks against soldiers and Jewish settlers in southern Gaza, along the border with Egypt.

On the day Ms Corrie died, she and other activists had entered a closed military zone to protest the demolition policy.

According to the UN agency handling Palestinian refugees, the military had left more than 17,000 Gazans homeless in the four years after a Palestinian uprising against Israel erupted in September 2000. The demolitions drew international condemnation at the time.

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