Activist Rachel Corrie before being killed by IDF buldozer 3.
A Haifa District Court invoked the “combatant activities” exception, and said on
Tuesday that the US activist who was killed in disputed circumstances involving
an IDF bulldozer could have avoided the dangerous situation, but calls her death
a “regrettable accident.”
In the verdict, Judge Oded Gershon invoked the
exception, noting that IDF forces were attacked in the same area in which Corrie
had been killed just hours earlier while protesting an IDF home demolition in
Rafah on March 16, 2003.
The combatant activities exception essentially
says that a country’s armed forces cannot be held liable for civil damages for
physical or economic harm to civilians in an area defined as a war
The Supreme Court has previously held that the Rafah area was a war
zone during the second intifada, when the incident occurred, even if combat was
not occurring at every moment.
Although that ruling already sealed the
case against the Corries, the judge went on to reject most of the main points in
the Corries’ narrative.
The court held that the driver had not and could
not have seen Corrie because the bulldozer has an obstructed
Reading a summary of his 62-page decision, the judge described
Israel’s investigation into the incident as appropriate and said it had not made
Notably, the judge did not address the criticism of the
investigation by the US government, which the Corries had repeatedly emphasized
during the case.
Saying that Corrie could have avoided danger, he
dismissed claims that the IDF was negligent in the incident.
The army did
not violate Corrie’s right to life, he continued, asserting that she inserted
herself into a dangerous situation.
Whereas the plaintiff said that
Corrie’s standing on a mound in front of the bulldozer showed that the driver
must have seen her, the court noted this as a mistake by Corrie as it caused her
to fall – after which she was even harder to see.
The court was also
highly critical of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement in
general, and of Corrie’s involvement in their activities. The judge went as far as to accuse the ISM of indirectly assisting terrorists in some
In his verdict, Gershon dismissed criticism that the state had
failed to have a US representative present to observe Corrie’s autopsy as a
non-critical procedural error.
He said that even though in principle a US
representative should have been there, the Corries had failed to make any cogent
arguments about how the absence of a representative had actually substantively
impacted the case.
Corrie, 23, from Olympia, Washington, died in Rafah in
the southern Gaza Strip when a bulldozer struck her during a protest by the
Corrie’s family filed the civil suit against the Defense Ministry in
the district court seven years ago. They claim that the IDF either deliberately
killed Corrie or is at least guilty of gross negligence.
officials including Col. Pinhas Zuaretz, the former commander of the Gaza
Division’s Southern Brigade, have testified in the trial.
after the trial ended in July, Corrie’s family alleged that important evidence –
including several surveillance tapes that show color footage of events before
and after the activist’s death – were withheld as part of a cover-up over the
circumstances of her death.
The color footage was used in a Channel 2
documentary, but the IDF has denied that it exists, the family
IDF officials did submit as evidence a black and white
surveillance video with footage shot immediately before and after Corrie’s
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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