The Jerusalem Post (Editorial)
August 28, 2012 - 12:00am

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 findings.

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 soldiers.

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 law.

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 herself.”

UNFORTUNATELY BUT not unpredictably, Gershon’s ruling is being presented by some news media as an attempt by Israel to whitewash war crimes.

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 responsibility.

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 troubling.”

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.


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