Rachel Corrie’s family loses wrongful death appeal in Israeli supreme court

Court upholds earlier decision on 2003 death caused by military bulldozer

Israel’s supreme court has rejected the appeal by the family of Rachel Corrie which had sought to hold Israel liable for her death. The US activist was crushed to death by a military bulldozer in Gaza 12 years ago.

The ruling, which followed a high-profile hearing before Israel’s top court last year, appears to bring to an end – in the Israeli courts at least – years of effort by the Corrie family to hold the country’s military responsible for her death.

Instead, the court upheld the decision of a lower court, which invoked the “combat activities exception” that the Israeli military cannot be held responsible for damages in a war zone.

In 2003, Corrie (23), from Olympia in Washington state, was a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement protesting against the Israeli military’s house destructions in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip when she was run over and killed.


Her death became an international cause.

The Corrie family had been pursuing a lawsuit against Israel’s defence ministry, charging that Israel’s military had either killed her deliberately or were guilty of negligence in not demonstrating more care when she attempted to block the bulldozer.

‘Regrettable accident’

The family had been appealing against the decision of a lower court in Haifa in 2012 that absolved the Israeli military of responsibility for her death, describing it as a “regrettable accident”.

The Corrie family first began proceedings in 2005 arguing in court that the military should have suspended the bulldozing operations until the protesters had been removed from the area.

The appeal last year attracted considerable attention, although it was clear from the exchanges between the judges and the Corrie family lawyer that it would be an uphill struggle to persuade the court.

Rachel’s mother Cindy had criticised the 2012 ruling as “a symptom of a broken system of accountability within Israel and our own US government” that had failed to deliver accountability for her daughter’s death.

The Israeli military had long argued that the area in whichCorrie was killed was a “closed military zone” where there had been recent violence – a claim challenged by the family’s lawyer Hussein Abu Hussein.

The judge in the Haifa case accepted the claim by the Israeli military that troops in the area had been attacked with a grenade, an assertion also challenged by the Corrie family.

Rachel's parents, Craig and Cindy, had dedicated themselves almost full-time to learning the truth about their daughter's death, an event in which claims by Israeli soldiers often seemed at odds with official military logs.– (Guardian service)