Rachel Corrie Verdict Reinforces the Israeli Army’s Culture of Impunity
"The ruling today was an expected disappointment. There is a clear culture of impunity that the Israeli army operates within and today we found out that American peace activists, like Palestinians, have no right to justice when the status quo is threatened.”"
Mohammad Zeidan, General Director of the HRA
Haifa – Haifa District Court judge, Oded Gershon, ruled today in the case of Rachel Corrie, an American citizen and human rights activist, who was crushed to death in 2003 by a IDF bulldozer while she was trying to protect a Gazan family’s home. Judge Gershon dismissed the civil lawsuit brought by Corrie’s parents and has ruled her death an “accident”.
In his ruling, Gershon declared that the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), although it is calling for nonviolent actions, is using human rights and morals to cover its actual actions, which are violent and is using its activists as human shields to protect terrorists! Furthermore, the ruling described the actions of the army during the event as dependant on security needs and that Rachel Corrie entered the area where she knew there were military actions. Gershon decided that by doing this they put themselves in the path of danger and that they are, in effect, responsible for endangering themselves.
Rachel Corrie’s family gave a press conference after hearing the ruling. Her sister, Cindy, responded to the ruling, “I believe this was a bad day, not only for our family, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel.” The Corrie family lawyer, and Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) board member, Hussein Abu Hussein continued his defense to the media, “All the people present were peace activists. What kind of war is this?”
The HRA believes that the army did not, and does not, take sufficient precautions to protect civilians, Rachel Corrie specifically. This condition, of Israeli institutions taking extreme measures to protect the army’ reputation over the safety of civilians, is reprehensible and is an affront to internationally acknowledged human rights.
The code of conduct for the army in the area was to avoid “creating a precedent”, as presented by officers in the court, by which civilians would stop the work and by adhering to that code of conduct Rachel Corrie was killed. The court decision is providing a cover, or legitimizing all the actions of the army that clearly included attacking civilians. This ruling has codified “security” as an adequate defense for all malpractice on the part of the army. Rachel Corrie and the family she was protecting were not a security threat. Rachel’s death was a tragic and terrible reminder that the Israeli government and army feel no obligation to protect the human rights and lives of all citizens living under its rule. Hussein Abu Hussein summarized the outrage over this decision, “this verdict is yet another example of where the culture of impunity has prevailed over accountability and fairness.”
Although the court was dealing with the case of Rachel Corrie, we can extrapolate the reality of the army’s policies. If this is the treatment of an American citizen, we can reasonably imagine the harsh truth of the army’s attitude towards the Palestinians. Mohammad Zeidan, General Director of the HRA, responds, “The ruling today was an expected disappointment. There is a clear culture of impunity that the Israeli army operates within and today we found out that American peace activists, like Palestinians, have no right to justice when the status quo is threatened.”
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