VIDEO: Court absolves Israeli government of blame for death of American protester in 2003
Rachel Corrie, an American student, went to the Gaza Strip in 2003 to protest Israel's destruction of Palestinian homes. She died in the protest. A court in Israel on Tuesday ruled that the driver of the bulldozer that ran her over was unable to see her and therefore isn't liable for her death.
When American student Rachel Corrie put herself between a military bulldozer and the home of a Palestinian family in March 2003, she became a symbol of resistance.
Corrie was run over by the bulldozer during a protest against the demolition of houses by the Israeli government in the Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday, an Israeli judge ruled that the state had no responsibility for Corrie's death.
Jodie Rudoren, the Jerusalem bureau chief for The New York Times, said Corrie's story, and her writings and emails from before her death, had been used to create various memorials about her experience and her beliefs.
"She's just really been embraced as a martyr and a symbol," she said.
Rudoren said there were questions about the transparency of the Israeli Army's investigation into the incident, as well as questions about how witnesses would testify at trial.
It wasn't a surprise, ultimately, Rudoren said, that the court ruled against Corrie's family. Indeed, she said it would have been "a shock" if the verdict had gone the other way.
"Nothing in their investigation indicated any leaning that way," she said.
The army maintains that neither the bulldozer driver nor any other army personnel saw the woman and, ultimately, the court agreed, saying she could not have been seen. Corrie's family maintains the woman was run over deliberately.
The court ultimately ruled that Corrie's death was an accident, but cited Corrie for putting her own life in danger, Rudoren said.
"(The judge) said that anyt hinking person would have moved," Rudoren said. "She was not acting appropriately by continuing to stand there as the bulldozers moved and announced they would move."
Mark Regev, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman, said the judge found that bulldozers actually moved away from Corrie and her fellow activists on several occasions.
Regev, though, said the court ruling shouldn't be viewed as some broad mandate empowering the government to run over protesters if they've been given warnings.
"That is and would remain illegal," he said.
But Regev said what the court determined was the driver, in this case, was unable to see Corrie and therefore was not liable for her death.
"It was impossible for the driver to see the activist on the ground," he said. "Even the person brought in by the Corrie family, their expert, attested to that fact."
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