"We are upset and saddened by the verdict. This is a sad day not only for our family, but also for human rights, for the legal system and for the State of Israel," said Cindy Corrie, after a Haifa District Court rejected on Tuesday accusations that Israel was at fault over the death of American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an army bulldozer during a 2003 pro-Palestinian demonstration in Gaza.
In a ruling read out to the court, Judge Oded Gershon called Corrie's death a "regrettable accident", but said the state was not responsible because the incident had occurred during what he termed a war-time situation.
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At the time of her death, during a Palestinian uprising, Corrie was protesting against Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Asserting that Corrie could have avoided danger, Gershon dismissed claims that the IDF was negligent in the incident and denied the family's suit for damages. The IDF did not violate Corrie's right to life, he said, asserting that she consciously inserted herself into a dangerous situation.
Speaking after the verdict was released, Cindy, Corrie's mother, said that "it is clear that the legal system protects soldiers and provides them with legal impunity at the cost of civilians."
However, she added, "At least we have the option to turn to the justice system – a right many Palestinians are denied of."
Regarding the incident in which her daughter found her death, Corrie said that she and her family believe that at least one of the soldiers could have seen Rachel in front of the bulldozer, adding that "they had an obligation to check who was standing in front of them.
Craig Corrie, Rachel's father further said that "I'm proud of what my daughter did."
Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, who represents the Corries, said that they would appeal the court's verdict in the High Court of Justice.
Hussein further said that the family believes the verdict contradicts international law. "The court has given a stamp of approval to harm innocent lives," he said.
"Rachel Corrie was a pro-peace activist who was run over by a bulldozer. How can the court rule that the incident occurred during a war-time situation?" Hussein asked, adding that "in Israel the law provides soldiers with impunity when it is proven that their lives were in danger. However, the soldiers were protected inside their bulldozers. Not one hair on their head could have been harmed."
Major General (Res.) Yisrael Ziv who acted as Gaza Division Chief Brigadier-General during the time of the incident, also addressed the court's ruling, saying that "the activists intentionally entered an area where the IDF had announced it would be staying in."
"This is a very saddening incident and the person who could have prevented it is the person who brought it upon themselves. The activists entered a terrorist camp. The facts show that the person who was killed was not a child or an innocent Palestinian family, but rather those who came to protest and incite against the IDF while terrorists were shooting at the soldiers," Ziv added.
The IDF's Spokespersons Unit refused to comment on the verdict.
Yoav Zitun contributed to this report
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