On August 28th, 2012, an Israeli court resolved a civil suit, finding that the Israeli military were not responsible for the death of an American protestor who was crushed by a bulldozer used to demolish houses in a town of Gaza. The incident occurred in March of 2003, when Rachel Corrie lost her life trying to defend the home of the Palestinian family she was living with. She attempted to block the bulldozer and was killed. Her parents have been fighting the legal battles with the State of Israel ever since.
The prosecution’s main argument was the Israeli military’s account of the event. According to them, the tragedy was accidental. The bulldozer was “heavily armored” to protect it from Palestinian attacks, and as a result, the driver could only allegedly see through small slits in the front of the vehicle.
Another argument they used involved Corrie’s awareness that she, as the Associated Press article stated, “knowingly entered a closed military zone and area of violent conflict.” From a legal standpoint, contributory negligence or comparative fault comes to mind, but from an ethical standpoint, a bulldozer is attempting to demolish the home of the family that has sheltered you. What would you do?
According to the article, these demolitions are routine, and take place in densely populated areas, meaning thousands of people are being displaced whenever this occurs. U.N. Reports estimate the number of now-homeless Palestinians to be around 17,000. Trying to combat rampant terrorism is understandable, but how many innocent people become homeless as a result of these forced demolitions?
An interesting anomaly is that nobody is allowed to know the identity of the driver. Not only was his name never released, but he was permitted to testify behind a curtain. His identity was never made public. Although protecting the driver’s safety is a valid reason to keep his identity secret, Rachel Corrie’s parents should have been permitted to see him testify, if only to provide them with some closure.
The Corrie family does have the option to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, which they are considering.