A UN investigator condemned an Israeli court on
Thursday for clearing the military of blame for the death of American activist
crushed by an army bulldozer, calling it a "victory for impunity".
ruling handed down on Tuesday on the civil suit brought by the family of Rachel
Corrie was part of a pattern of decisions exonerating Israeli military actions
and political leaders, said Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on
human rights in the Palestinian territories.
decision represents a defeat for justice and accountability, and a victory for
impunity for the Israeli military," Falk said in a statement issued in
Corrie's family accused Israel of intentionally and unlawfully
killing their 23-year-old daughter in March 2003, launching a civil case in the
northern city of Haifa after a military investigation found the army was not
Corrie had joined activists trying to stop the Israeli army
from demolishing houses in the southern Gaza town of Rafah during a Palestinian
uprising. The family has said it will appeal the ruling.
Gershon said the death was a "regrettable accident" and invoked a clause that
absolved the army because the incident had happened during a wartime
But Falk said that the decision "flies directly in the face of
the Geneva Conventions, which impose on an occupying power an unconditional
obligation to protect the civilian population".
As an aid worker, Corrie
was entitled to protection by occupying forces and the house demolition appeared
to violate the pact's prohibition on targeting civilian property, he
"This is a sad outcome, above all for the Corrie family ... but
also for the rule of law and the hope that an Israeli court would place limits
on the violence of the state, particularly in relation to innocent and unarmed
civilians in an occupied territory," he said.
Falk, an American expert on
international law serving as an independent UN expert since 2008, is a vocal
critic of Israel, accusing it of crimes against humanity for its blockade of
Falk, who is Jewish, was detained and turned back from Israel in
2008, forcing him to abort a planned mission to Gaza - a deportation denounced
by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
He reports to the UN Human
Rights Council, whose June/July session was boycotted by Israel's delegation,
which accuses the 47-member forum of bias. Its latest investigation into Israeli
practices is into whether Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories
violate human rights law.