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Rachel Corrie’s Parents Want to Hold Israel Accountable for Their Daughter’s Brutal Death

The 23-year-old was killed in 2003 in the Gaza Strip while trying to prevent the IDF from demolishing Palestinian houses.

by John Beck
May 21 2014, 8:20pm

Photo via AP/Muhammed Muheisen

More than a decade after a young American activist was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer, her parents are making what is likely to be a final appeal to hold the country’s military responsible for her death.

Rachel Corrie was killed in 2003 in the Gaza Strip while trying to impede an operation by the Israeli Defense Forces in which soldiers were demolishing Palestinian houses. She was 23 years old. The IDF sought to flatten buildings in the area because it claimed that militants were using them for cover.

On Wednesday, her family appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling in 2012 that cleared the army of wrongdoing.

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Corrie was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian advocacy organization that attempts to disrupt Israeli military activities in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. According to its website, it is “committed to resisting the long-entrenched and systematic oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian population, using non-violent, direct-action methods and principles.”

The lower court backed the military’s conclusion that the bulldozer’s heavy armor prevented the driver from seeing Corrie as she stood between the machine and a Palestinian home. Israeli authorities also argued that her death was her own fault because she had entered a closed military zone.

Corrie’s parents counter that the military was aware of civilian activists in the area and should have dealt with them appropriately. They also assailed the notion that the IDF was immune from charges because the incident occurred in a “war zone.”

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It is unclear when the Supreme Court will decide on the appeal. No additional evidence will be considered, and there appears to be only a slim likelihood that the verdict will be overturned and the case retried.

“It is a tragedy when the law is broken, but far, far worse when it is abandoned altogether,” Corrie’s father Craig said in a statement earlier this month. “The Supreme Court now has a choice, to either show the world that the Israeli legal system honors the most basic principles of human rights and can hold its military accountable, or to add to mounting evidence that justice cannot be found in Israel.”

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Her case has been the subject of heated debate among Israeli authorities, Palestinian advocacy groups, and members of the international community. Opinion columns in Israel and elsewhere have attacked her for naively intervening in the country’s affairs and decried what they describe as the media’s bias in its coverage of the case.

Rights groups have criticized a lack of accountability for the actions of Israel’s armed forces.

“The verdict continues the pattern of impunity for Israeli military violations against civilians and human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Amnesty International said in a statement following the 2012 ruling. “The verdict shields Israeli military personnel from accountability and ignores deep flaws in the Israeli military’s internal investigation of Corrie’s death.”

Follow John Beck on Twitter: @JM_Beck