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Israeli Court Rules American Activist's Death Was An Accident

Rachel Corrie, 23, stands in front of a Palestinian's home to prevent it from being demolished
Rachel Corrie, 23, stands in front of a Palestinian's home to prevent it from being demolished

An Israeli court sided with the government today, ruling that Israel was not at fault for the death of American activist Rachel Corrie.

Corrie's parents were suing for accountability and $1 in damages for the death of their 23-year-old daughter. Corrie was killed in 2003, when she stood in front of a bulldozer to try to keep the Israeli soldier manning it from razing Palestinian homes.

The New York Times reports that like an internal investigation before it, the court ruled the death was an accident that happened while the military was trying to prevent "terrorist activity." The Times reports:

"'She chose to put herself in danger,' said the judge, Oded Gershon. 'She could have easily distanced herself from the danger like any reasonable person would.'

"Since her death, Ms. Corrie has become an international symbol of the Palestinian resistance. A play based on her writings has been performed in 10 countries, and a ship in an aid flotilla to Gaza bore her name. Numerous books and documentaries have told of how Ms. Corrie, a 23-year-old student, stood in an orange vest with a bullhorn between a bulldozer and the home of a Palestinian family in March 2003 during the height of the second intifada, or uprising.

"A lawyer representing the state said after the hearing on Tuesday that the driver of the bulldozer did not see Ms. Corrie and could not have."

Corrie's mother, Cindy, told The Jerusalem Post that she was "hurt" by the verdict. The family's lawyer said the court's decision was so close to the government's conclusion, the government could have written it.

"From the beginning it was clear that there is a system to protect soldiers and provide them with impunity at the cost of civilians," she told the Post. "Now we now that the protection for soldiers extends to the court."

Cindy added: "At least we have had access to a court system, which most Palestinians are denied."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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