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Israeli court: Bulldozed US woman not killed unlawfully

A court in Haifa has rejected allegations of negligence in a civil lawsuit over a 23-year-old woman killed as she sought to block the path of an armored bulldozer in 2003. Rachel Corrie's parents filed the suit.

The court in the northern Israeli city of Haifa ruled against all claims of negligence filed by Craig and Cindy Corrie, whose daughter Rachel was run over by an armored bulldozer aged 23.

"I reached the conclusion that there was no negligence on the part of the bulldozer driver," said Judge Oded Gershon in his Tuesday ruling. Gershon said he had concluded that the Israeli army was not guilty of negligence and that the subsequent military police investigation into Corrie's death had been properly conducted.

Corrie's parents had filed a civil lawsuit, claiming that their daughter's death was unlawful and intentional, also saying Israel failed to conduct a full and credible investigation.

Judge Gershon said in the ruling that the state was not responsible for any "damages caused" as they had occurred during what he described as war-time actions. He called Corrie's death a "regrettable accident."

Appeal planned by parents

The Corries' lawyer Hussein Abu Hussein told reporters outside the courtroom that his clients planned to appeal.

"The verdict is based upon distorted facts and could have been written by the state's attorney," he said. "We are going to appeal."

Cindy, right, and Craig Corrie, center, the parents of Rachel Corrie, sit together with their daughter Sarah, left, at the District Court in Haifa, northern Israel, Sunday, July 10, 2011. (dapd)

The Corrie family's case ran for nearly 30 months in Haifa

Corrie was killed in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip in 2003, she was part of a group of pro-Palestinian protestors acting as human shields in a bid to prevent a house demolition. She was a member of the oft-criticized International Solidarity Movement, which describes itself as "a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles."

Symbolic attempt

The Israeli military launched a swift investigation into the matter, deciding later in 2003 not to take any action. The army said the bulldozer crew could not see Corrie as she was behind a mound of rubble; an account Corrie's fellow protestors contested.

Corrie's parents launched the civil suit against Israel and its defense ministry that began in March 2010, seeking the symbolic sum of $1, plus costs.

The Israeli Justice Ministry said in a statement when the trial opened that Corrie "took part in hostile and violent illegal activity, and intentionally and willingly put herself at risk … in the Gaza Strip in general, and along the Philadelphi Corridor in particular, which were combat zones at the time and had been declared a 'closed military zone.'"

The bulldozer driver, who testified behind a screen to preserve his anonymity, responded "I don't remember" when asked by the Corries' lawyer if he recalled seeing the young woman.

msh/ipj (AFP, AP, Reuters)