Jewish Group Deplores Israeli Civil Court Verdict Today in 2003 Death of American Activist Rachel Corrie

[NEW YORK, August 28, 2012] Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is deeply disappointed by the verdict read by Judge Oded Gershon this morning in the civil court case brought by the Corrie family against the State of Israel, which exonerated the state and the army of any responsibility for the killing of their daughter, Rachel Corrie, in 2003. At the time of her death, Corrie was attempting to defend a civilian home in Rafah, Gaza from demolition.

This verdict–declaring American peace activist Rachel Corrie’s death to be merely an accident–reflects the impunity of the Israeli army and the deficient investigation undertaken by Israel after Rachel’s death. The U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, told the Corrie family last week, ahead of Judge Gershon’s decision, that Israel’s investigation into the death of their daughter was not satisfactory, and wasn’t as thorough, credible or transparent as it should have been.

In response to the Judge Gershon’s verdict, Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel’s parents said: “We are deeply saddened and troubled by what we heard today in the court of Judge Oded Gershon. This was a bad day, not only for us, but for human rights, for humanity, the rule of law, and the country of Israel. From the beginning, it was clear that there was a system to protect the military and soldiers, to provide them impunity. This extends to the courts. The diplomatic process failed us. The Israeli court system demonstrated that it failed us too. Rachel was a human being who deserved accountability, and we as her family deserve that too.”

Sydney Levy, Director of Advocacy at Jewish Voice for Peace said: ”We at JVP deplore Judge Gershon’s verdict, and we applaud the Corrie family and their legal team for successfully putting on trial Israel’s flawed justice system. This verdict is yet another flagrant disregard for international law by Israel, which is obligated, as are all countries, to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians from the dangers of military operations. The Israeli military undoubtedly violated this principle in the killing of nonviolent human rights activist Rachel Corrie.”

The Israeli policy of home demolitions, sometimes extending to entire villages, remains as urgent an issue today as it was in 2003. Palestinians in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and Hebron Hills live daily with the threat–and reality– of their homes being demolished, often with the same Caterpillar bulldozers as were used in Corrie’s death.

JVP joins the Rachel Corrie Foundation in urging concerned activists in the US to mark the trial verdict with actions to end the housing demolitions that deny Palestinians the basic human right of being secure in their own homes. We urge activists to visit the local offices of retirement fund TIAA-CREF to deliver a letter remembering Rachel Corrie and drawing attention to Israel’s policy of home demolitions, frequently carried out using Caterpillar bulldozers.

While TIAA-CREF recently dropped Caterpillar from their social choice funds, they continue to invest over $1 billion in Caterpillar in their general funds. Jewish Voice for Peace is the founding member of the national coordinating committee of the We Divest campaign (wedivest.org) demanding that TIAA-CREF divest from companies, like Caterpillar, that are profiting from the Israeli occupation.

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