The death of 23-year-old American rights activist Rachel Corrie was a
“regrettable accident,” not an intentional war crime, Haifa District Court Judge
Oded Gershon ruled on Tuesday.
For those following the trial who are
unbiased by a perennial desire to bash Israel and search tirelessly for its
faults, the verdict was no surprise.
The day after Corrie’s death, Ariel
Sharon, who was prime minister at the time, promised US president George W. Bush
that Israel would conduct a “thorough, credible and transparent” investigation.
And that is precisely what was done.
An internal IDF probe into the
circumstances of Corrie’s death headed by the chief of staff found that IDF
troops were not to blame. Corrie had entered a closed military zone. She was
standing in a blind spot where the soldier driving the military-issued bulldozer
could not see her.
Furthermore, she was killed by falling debris, not by
the bulldozer. IDF soldiers using teargas and other means had attempted
repeatedly to remove her and other pro-Palestinian activists, but Corrie escaped
the soldiers by hiding behind a mound.
Her parents, Cindy and Craig,
refused to accept the veracity of that investigation’s
Understandably, they are still grief-stricken over their
daughter’s unnecessary and unfortunate death. However, they believed – like so
many Israel bashers – that the IDF could cover up a war crime, including the
intentional murder of a 23-year-old female activist, to protect its
The Corries and several anti-Israel activists also lost a US
legal battle against Caterpillar Inc., the firm that sold the bulldozer to the
IDF. The federal court was not convinced by their claim that Caterpillar was
culpable for selling bulldozers to Israel, knowing they would be used for
activities considered by these activists to be a violation of international
In November 2005, a federal judge dismissed the case because of its
“political” subject matter. In September 2007, that decision was backed up by
the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth District. The US judiciary correctly
stayed away from ruling on the legality of the right of the State of Israel to
defend itself against its many enemies.
Tuesday’s decision by Judge
Gershon – which the Corrie family intends to appeal – essentially confirmed
these previously inquiries and rulings. Rafah, the area in the Gaza Strip into
which Corrie entered, was a war zone at the time.
From the outbreak of
the Second Intifada in September 2000 until the day of Corrie’s death, the IDF
countered about 6,000 grenades thrown at soldiers in the area. There had been
around 1,400 shooting attacks, 150 explosives detonated, 200 anti-tank rockets
fired and some 40 instances of mortar fire. The IDF was in Rafah to defend
Israeli citizens against Palestinian terrorists.
The judge went on to say
that it was Corrie, not the IDF, who had been negligent. Corrie’s death was,
Gershon said, “the result of an accident she brought upon
UNFORTUNATELY BUT not unpredictably, Gershon’s ruling is being
presented by some news media as an attempt by Israel to whitewash war
The provocative headline in the online edition of the British
daily The Independent was “Rachel Corrie death: Israel rejects all blame,”
seemingly inviting readers to dismiss Israeli attempts to shirk
The Guardian led its website with the Corrie verdict, as
if nothing else (a massacre in Syria, the opening of the Republican convention
in the US, or even another Israeli court’s indictment of nine teens for
attacking an Arab youth in Jerusalem) were more newsworthy. And the headline
chosen was a quotation from the Corrie family calling the court decision “deeply
As has been pointed out by NGO Monitor, if anyone is
responsible for what happened to Rachel Corrie besides Corrie herself, it is the
International Solidarity Movement, the anti-Zionist organization that provided
her with training in “direct action” tactics before bringing her to the
ISM-organized demonstration in Rafah.
The circumstances of her tragic
death should be a wake-up call for the ISM and other organizations and media
outlets that have taken it upon themselves to single out Israel rather than
confront the real violators of human rights in the region.