Bulldozed activist’s death accident: Israeli court
HAIFA / GAZA
Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003.An Israeli court yesterday cleared the military of any responsibility for the death of U.S. activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an army bulldozer in 2003, rejecting a civil suit filed by the family. The family said they were “deeply troubled” by the verdict and vowed to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court.
The bulldozer driver has said he didn’t see the 23-year-old pro-Palestinian activist, who was trying to block the vehicle’s path during a demonstration in the Gaza Strip against the military’s demolition of Palestinian homes.
Explaining the district court’s ruling, judge Oded Gershon said Corrie “put herself in a dangerous situation” and called her death “the result of an accident she brought upon herself.”
He said the military conducted a proper investigation, and rejected the Corrie family’s request for a symbolic $1 in damages and legal expenses.
Family ‘deeply troubled’
“I am hurt,” Corrie’s mother, Cindy Corrie, told reporters after the verdict was read, according to daily Haaretz. Cindy Corrie said the family was “deeply saddened and deeply troubled” by the verdict and insisted that her daughter’s death could and should have been avoided.
“This was a bad day, not only for the family, but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law and for the country of Israel,” she said. Corrie, who was wearing an orange fluorescent jacket to alert the bulldozer drivers to her presence while acting as a human shield for Palestinian houses, quickly became a symbol of foreign support for the Palestinian cause after her death and the subject of a 2005 play based on her emails and diary.
The Corries’ lawyer Hussein Abu said the family would appeal to the Supreme Court.
“We’ve seen from the highest levels of the military that they thought they could kill people on that border with impunity,” Corrie’s father, Craig Corrie, a veteran of the Vietnam War told reporters.
The Israeli authorities said at the time that demolitions were necessary because Palestinian gunmen used the structures as cover to shoot at their troops patrolling in the area, or to conceal arms-smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, the BBC reported. Human rights groups said the demolitions represented collective punishment.
Gaza will no longer ‘livable’ by 2020
In the meantime, a new United Nations report said on Aug. 27 that Gaza will no longer be “livable” by 2020 unless urgent action is taken to improve water supply, power, health, and schooling.
“Action needs to be taken now if Gaza is to be a livable place in 2020, and it is already difficult now,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Maxwell Gaylard told journalists when the report was released. Five years into an Israeli blockade supported by Egypt, and living under one-party rule, Gaza’s population of 1.6 million is set to rise by 500,000 over the next eight years, say the authors of the U.N.’s most wide-ranging report on the territory. Gaza has one the youngest populations in the world, with 51 percent of people under the age of 18. “Action needs to be taken right now on fundamental aspects of life: water sanitation, electricity, education, health and other aspects,” Gaylard said.
Robert Turner, director of operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said Gaza by 2020 will need 440 more schools, 800 more hospital beds and over a 1,000 additional doctors. Gaylard called on international donors to increase their aid to a population which is 80 percent aid dependent.