| Today, August 28, 2012, and after a protracted legal
battle, Israel released the verdict (see below) in the case by the parents of
Rachel Corrie claiming damages against Israel for their daughter's death. At
the age of 24, Rachel Corrie traveled with her Palestinian / anti-Israel
activist friends to Gaza to protest Israel, and died on March 16, 2003 when she
placed herself in front of an Israeli military bulldozer in the middle of a
military-ordered war-zone closed to everyone.
Because Rachel Corrie placed herself in harms harm's way, as
the court determined, Israel is not responsibility for her death. Ever since
her death, however, Palestinian activists have used the story to justify their
boycott of Israel, yet failing to mention their boycott campaign started long
before Rachel Corrie was even born.
Rachel Corrie went to Gaza with the Palestine Solidarity
Movement / International Solidarity Movement, the group which adopted the
divest-from-Israel campaign which was created by Yassir Arafat and later
renamed the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The campaign was
conducted as part of the greater Arab boycott of Israel dating back to 1910,
and is documented in the book Boycotting Peace.
Court documents prove Rachel Corrie knelt in front of a
bulldozer while it was moving toward her, hoping the bulldozer operator would
stop. Rachel Corrie, however, stopped in the blind spot of the bulldozer
operator and with the help of her so-called friends, effectively set herself up
to be killed.
In the book Boycotting Peace, author Fred Taub
debunked the Arab version of the Rachel Corrie story, and now a court has
proved the Arab 'house' story to be 100% false. Today, Fred Taub stated:
"This court ruling proves my points spelled out in my book
Boycotting Peace - The BDS / Arab
boycott of Israel campaign is based on lies, and those lies have once again
been exposed today. Despite this, I have no doubt the supporters of Hamas and
Hezbollah terrorism against Israel will continue to tell the false story of
Rachel Corrie to gain support for their hatred of Israel." Fred Taub also
pointed out that it is stupid to kneel in front of a moving bulldozer.
(Official Translation from Hebrew, released 8-28-2012)
Summary of the Verdict (T.A. 371/05) Estate of the Late Rachel Corrie, etc. v.
The State of Israel - Ministry of Defense
1. The decedent, Rachel Corrie, was born on April 10, 1979. She was an American
citizen, residing in Olympia, Washington. On March 16, 2003, the decedent was
killed during an incident which is the focus of this lawsuit. She was 24 years
The decedent was an activist in the International Solidarity Movement
(hereafter: "the Organization" or "the ISM").
2. In this lawsuit (T.A. 371/05) the plaintiffs, the estate of the late Rachel
Corrie (hereafter: "the decedent"), the decedent's parents, brother
and sister, are petitioning to direct the defendant, the State of Israel, to
pay them compensation for special damages and general damages inflicted on
them, they claim, as a result of the death of the decedent during the incident
that is the focus of this trial. In addition to the aforementioned, the
plaintiffs have petitioned to direct the defendant to pay "punitive
3. The plaintiffs claimed in their lawsuit that on March 16, 2003, the
decedent, together with other activists in the ISM, arrived at the
"Philadelphi Corridor" in the Rafiah area of the Gaza Strip where two
bulldozers and an IDF tank were observed conducting operational activities in
the area. The plaintiffs claimed that the bulldozers were about to demolish a
house in the area and that the decedent and her fellow members of the ISM stood
in the path of the bulldozers in order to prevent them from implementing their
In Article 8.5 of the Statement of Claim, the plaintiffs claimed as follows:
"At 17:00 or thereabouts, the decedent stood near the house of Dr. Samir
Nasrallah, which was designated for demolition, and one of the bulldozers was
10 to 15 meters from her. The bulldozers approached the decedent and pulled
dirt from under her feet. The decedent fell and the blade of the bulldozer ran
over her leg and later the bulldozer ran over her body. When the bulldozer
backed up the decedent was gravely injured and was bleeding extensively,
although she was still breathing.
The decedent was evacuated to the Al-Najer Hospital in Rafiah, where her death
was declared after 20 minutes".
4. The plaintiffs claimed that the bulldozer intentionally caused the death of
the decedent. The plaintiffs based their claim on the following three grounds:
assault, negligence and legal grounds.
5. After hearing many witnesses from both sides, including expert witnesses,
and studying the extensive summations from representatives of both sides, I
hereby determine as follows:
a. During the relevant period of time, the "Philadelphi Corridor" was
the site of daily warfare, i.e. daily gunfire by snipers, missile fire and IED
explosions directed at the IDF forces. During this period, unceasing efforts
were made to kidnap IDF soldiers. Only soldiers who were in combat units fought
in the region.
According to the notes made in the IDF records, from September 2000 to the date
of the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit (March 16, 2003), nearly
6,000 grenades had been thrown at IDF forces in the Corridor; there had been
approximately 1,400 incidents of gunfire; and there were more than 40
occurrences of mortar fire. These aforementioned events led to the injury and
death of many Israelis.
The United States government issued a travel warning on March 16, 2003 to warn
American citizens against visiting the Gaza Strip area or the West Bank.
b. During the period pertinent to this case, there was a military directive in
force declaring the "Philadelphi Corridor" a "closed military
area" and forbidding the entry of civilians.
c. The ISM assigned itself the task of working alongside the Palestinians
against the "Israeli occupation" by using what it called
"non-violent protest activities". However, the evidence presented to
me shows a significant gap between the Organization's statements and the true
character of its activities and actions. The actions taken by the members of
the organization, in practice, do not match its statements. In fact, the
Organization exploits the dialogue regarding human rights and morality to blur
the severity of its actions, which are, in fact, expressed through violence.
Inter alia, ISM activities included "defending" Palestinian families,
even ones that were engaged in terror activities. The Organization's activists
"specialized" in sabotaging the IDF's operational actions. ISM
activities included, inter alia: stationing activists to serve as "human
shields" for terrorists wanted by Israeli security forces; financial,
logistical and moral assistance to Palestinians, including terrorists and their
families; interrupting demolition activities or the sealing off of houses
belonging to terrorists who conducted suicide attacks with multiple casualties.
d. The mission of the IDF force on the day of the incident was solely to clear
the ground. This clearing and leveling included leveling the ground and
clearing it of brush in order to expose hiding places used by terrorists, who
would sneak out from these areas and place explosive devices with the intent of
harming IDF soldiers. There was an urgency to carrying out this mission so that
IDF look-outs could observe the area and locate terrorists thereby preventing
explosive devices from being buried. The mission did not include, in any way,
the demolition of homes. The action conducted by the IDF forces was done at
real risk to the lives of the soldiers. Less than one hour before the incident
that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF
e. I hereby determine that, on the day of the incident, the two bulldozers and
the armored personnel carrier were occupied with the clear military operational
task of clearing the land in a dangerous area which posed a significant risk.
The force's action was designed to prevent acts of terror and hostility, i.e.
to eliminate the danger of terrorists hiding between the creases of land and in
the brush, and to expose explosive devices hidden therein, both of which were
intended to kill IDF soldiers. During each act of exposure, the lives of the
IDF fighters were at risk from Palestinians terrorists. As aforementioned, less
than an hour before the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live
hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF force.
For this reason, I hereby determine that the act of clearing the land with
which the IDF force was occupied during the event was "a war-related
action" as defined in The Civil Wrongs Ordinance.
f. On March 16, 2003, the decedent and her fellow ISM activists arrived at the
location where the IDF force was working to clear the land. They did so, they
claim, in order to prevent the IDF force from demolishing Palestinian houses.
They did so illegally and in contradiction of the military directive declaring
the area a "closed military area". They held signs, stood in front of
the bulldozers and did not allow them to carry out their mission. The IDF
soldiers informed the activists that they had to distance themselves from the
area, threw stun grenades towards them, fired warning shots towards them and
used methods to disperse demonstrations. All without avail.
The IDF force was very careful not to harm the Organization's activists.
Because of the activists' interference, the force repeatedly relocated to
continue carrying out their mission.
g. Based on the evidence presented to me, including the testimony of the expert
for the prosecution, Mr. Osben, I hereby determine that at approximately 17:00,
the decedent stood roughly 15 to 20 meters from the relevant bulldozer and
knelt down. The bulldozer to which I refer was a large, clumsy and shielded
vehicle of the DR9 model. The field of view the bulldozer's operator had inside
the bulldozer was limited. At a certain point, the bulldozer turned and moved
toward the decedent. The bulldozer pushed a tall pile of dirt. With regard to
the field of view that the bulldozer's operator had, the decedent was in the
"blind spot". The decedent was behind the bulldozer's blade and
behind a pile of dirt and therefore the bulldozer's operator could not have
The bulldozer moved very slowly, at a speed of one kilometer per hour.
When the decedent saw the pile of dirt moving towards her, she did not move, as
any reasonable person would have. She began to climb the pile of dirt.
Therefore, both because the pile of dirt continued to move as a result of the
pushing of the bulldozer, and because the dirt was loose, the decedent was
trapped in the pile of dirt and fell.
At this stage, the decedent's legs were buried in the pile of dirt, and when
her colleagues saw from where they stood that the decedent was trapped in the
pile of dirt, they ran towards the bulldozer and gestured towards its operator
and yelled at him to stop. By the time the bulldozer's operator and his
commander noticed the decedent's colleagues and stopped the bulldozer, a
significant portion of the decedent's body was already covered in dirt.
The decedent's entire body was not covered in dirt. In fact, when the bulldozer
backed up, the decedent's body was seen to free itself from the pile of dirt
and the decedent was still alive.
The decedent was evacuated to the hospital and after 20 minutes, her death was
I hereby determine unequivocally that there is no foundation to the plaintiffs'
claim that the bulldozer struck the decedent intentionally. This was a very
unfortunate accident and was not intentional. No one wished to harm the
decedent. I was convinced that the bulldozer's operator would not have
continued to work if he had seen the decedent standing in front of the
bulldozer, as he and his colleagues acted in similar circumstances earlier that
day, when they moved from location to location because of the disturbances
caused by the members of the Organization.
h. Because I find, as aforementioned, that the decedent was accidentally killed
in the framework of a "war-related activity" as defined in The Civil
Wrongs Ordinance, and in light of the instructions laid out in Article 5 of the
aforementioned ordinance, the State bears no responsibility for the damages
inflicted on the plaintiffs resulting from a war-related action.
This makes superfluous the need to discuss the cause of action made by the
plaintiffs because legally their demand should be rejected.
Nevertheless, above and beyond what is necessary, I have also decided to
discuss the cause of action filed by the plaintiffs as well as their other
i. The plaintiffs claimed that evidentiary damage was done in two areas: first,
they claim that the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) investigation
carried out after the event was sloppy and unprofessional and led to
evidentiary damage for the plaintiffs; the second area, which refers to the
responsibility of the Institute for Forensic Medicine for evidentiary damage
caused to the plaintiffs as a result of the violation of the judicial order and
the destruction of the recording documenting the decedent's autopsy.
It could be expected that, in light of the claim made above, the plaintiffs'
representative would submit to the court the file of the investigation
conducted by the CID so that I could form my own opinion regarding the
investigatory actions carried out and the manner in which the investigation was
carried out, and to learn if the actions taken by the CID were sufficient or
not. However, it was the plaintiffs that objected to submitting the full file
of the investigation as evidence, even though the defendant agreed to do so.
Thus did the plaintiffs, by their own actions, introduce circumstances in which
an extremely important tool to examine their claims was denied to the court.
After examining the evidentiary material and studying the claims made by
representatives of both sides, I reached the conclusion that the CID
investigation was conducted appropriately and without fault.
j. With regard to the claims made regarding evidentiary damages relating to the
Institute of Forensic Medicine:
Investigators from the CID concluded that in order to advance the
investigation, an autopsy would have to be performed on the decedent. As a
result, they approached the District Court in Rishon LeZion and asked for a
court order that would allow for such an autopsy. The court order "...that
the body be autopsied at the Abu Kabir Institute for Forensic Medicine by a
doctor who is not in the military and in the presence of a representative of
the American State Department" (Exhibit 6/T).
Professor Hiss testified that since the American Consulate saw no need to send
a representative to be present at the autopsy, the autopsy was conducted, with
the family's agreement, without a consular representative. He also testified
that the Consulate sent a fax confirming that the autopsy could be conducted
without a representative from the family (Exhibit 11/T).
After examining the evidentiary material and studying the claims made by
representatives of both sides, I reached the conclusion that the plaintiffs'
claim of evidentiary damage by the Institute for Forensic Medicine seems
strange. This is because the decedent's father himself testified that, from the
outset, the family had no intention of conducting an autopsy and that their
intention was to pursue the matter diplomatically in order to clarify what
happened to the decedent. Moreover: it appears that the decedent's family had
no interest regarding the identity of the Consular representative that was to
be present during the autopsy, nor in the type of professional training they
had had. The family wanted a Consular representative to be present even if a
secretary or typist had been sent!
Professor Hiss explained in his testimony that the aforementioned fax was sent
to him after he telephoned the United States Embassy and asked that they send
an American doctor to be present at the autopsy. He claims that the embassy did
not find a need to do so. Professor Hiss asked to receive approval from the
decedent's family and he then received the fax 11/T in which it is specifically
stated that the decedent's family agreed to the autopsy and that no other faxes
would be sent.
I believe that under these circumstances, Professor Hiss was well within his
rights to conclude that, ultimately, the decedent's family conceded its demand
for a representative to be present during the autopsy. The family's desire was
to receive the decedent's body as soon as possible. Indeed, the family did not
conduct any additional examinations after receiving the decedent's body and it
was cremated: see Mr. Craig Corrie's testimony.
I am aware of the fact that, according to the language of the District Court's
decision regarding the autopsy of the decedent's body, there should have been a
representative of the US Embassy present during the autopsy. However, under the
circumstances, when it was explained that the embassy saw no reason to send a
representative, as Professor Hiss testified, and because the fax sent to
Professor Hiss (11/T) stated that the family agreed to the autopsy, we can
understand why Professor Hiss believed that there was nothing preventing him
from conducting the autopsy without an embassy representative being present.
There is no doubt that the proper course of action would have been to return to
the District Court so that, in light of the change in circumstances, the court
could amend its decision and remove the condition regarding the presence of an
embassy representative. However, given the circumstances and in light of the
aforementioned, it is not clear what evidentiary damage was made to the
plaintiffs' case because of the conduct of the Institute of Forensic Medicine.
With regard to the plaintiffs' claim regarding the recording documenting the
autopsy, I found no grounds to accept it. It is an audio recording (as opposed
to a video recording) which served as a draft for Professor Hiss when preparing
his report. Recordings like this are made because, during an autopsy, the
doctor's hands are holding scalpels and covered in blood, and therefore notes
cannot be taken. Apparently, the aforementioned audio recording simply does not
exist anymore because, due to budgetary problems, the Institute of Forensic
Medicine recycles tapes (see the testimony given by Professor Hiss). Under
these circumstances, it is not clear what evidentiary damage was caused to the
plaintiffs as a result of the aforementioned draft having been erased due to
In summation, with regard to evidentiary damages, I hereby determine that the
two cumulative conditions necessary as laid out in the precedent determined by
the Supreme Court were not upheld. They did not prove that evidentiary damage
was caused which harmed their ability to prove their claims, nor did they prove
that the defendant, through negligence, caused the claimed evidentiary damage.
k. With regard to grounds for assault I hereby determine that there is no
foundation for such claims because there is no component of "malice".
As I have determined that the decedent was killed accidentally and not
intentionally, legally the claim regarding grounds for assault must be
l. With regard to grounds for negligence: I am convinced that, given the
circumstances created at the location of the incident, the actions taken by the
force were without fault. Indeed, the field of vision of the bulldozer's
operator was limited. However, the decedent's field of vision while she stood
in front of the bulldozer and knelt down was open and without any limitation.
The decedent could have distanced herself from any danger without any
difficulty. However, she chose to take the risk described above, and that
eventually led to her death.
Given these circumstances, I have reached the conclusion that it was not
negligence on the part of the defendant or any of its representatives that
caused the decedent's death. Therefore it can be understood that I reject the
claim that there is any foundation for the grounds of negligence in this case.
m. The defendant claims a "willing endangerment" defense, in
accordance with Article 5(A) of the Civil Wrongs ordinance. I reached the
conclusion that the foundation for this defense, as determined by the Supreme
Court, has not been proven in this case, and therefore I hereby determine that
the aforementioned defense does not exist with regard to this lawsuit.
However, even though I have determined that it was not negligence on the part
of the defendant or its representatives that led to the death of the decedent,
and although the aforementioned defense does not exist with regard to this
lawsuit, it is not enough to change the result of rejecting this claim.
n. With regard to legal grounds: It is true that the decedent was killed during
the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit. However, in this case the
defendant did not violate the decedent's right to life. The decedent put
herself in a dangerous situation. She stood in front of a large bulldozer in a
location where the bulldozer's operator could not see her. Even when she saw
the pile of dirt moving towards her and endangering her, she did not remove
herself from the situation, as any reasonable person would have. The decedent
began to climb the pile of dirt, got tangled up in it, fell and eventually
The decedent's death was the result of an accident that the decedent caused.
This occurred despite the efforts of the IDF force to distance her and her
colleagues from the area.
I believe that, under these circumstances, there is no justification to
obligate the State to pay compensation for damages that the decedent could have
prevented, but preferred not to, thereby choosing to risk her life as she did.
Therefore, I reject the request to obligate the State to pay compensation on
6. Because of this and in light of the aforementioned, I reject the lawsuit.
Because of the circumstance surrounding the decedent's death, I will not make
the plaintiffs' pay the legal expenses and each side will bear its own costs.
Israel Government Press Office Press Release: 8-28-2012:
STATEMENT REGARDING CIVIL SUIT IN THE MATTER OF RACHEL CORRIE
(Communicated by the State Prosecutor's Office, Tel Aviv District)
Today, Tuesday the 28th of August 2012, the Haifa District Court reached a
verdict in the suit submitted by the parents of Rachel Corrie against the
Defense Ministry. In the verdict the honorable Judge, Oded Gershon, accepted
all arguments presented by the State Prosecutor's Office (Tel Aviv District).
The death of Rachel Corrie is without a doubt a tragic accident. As the verdict
states - the driver of the bulldozer and his commander had a very limited field
of vision, such that they had no possibility of seeing Ms. Corrie and thus are
exonerated of any blame for negligence.
This verdict is based on three different investigations that were presented to
the court by The State Prosecutor's Office making it clear that the driver
could not spot Ms. Corrie and thus could not have avoided this tragic accident.
More so, an expert who testified on behalf of the Corrie family also noted that
the driver could not and did not see Ms.Corrie due to the nature of the vehicle
he was operating.
Furthermore, the action described in the suit was "a military action in
the course of war" according to all criteria and that the state (therefore
the Defense Ministry) is exempt from responsibility for it. The security forces
at the Philadelphi Corridor during 2003 were compelled to carry out 'leveling'
work against explosive devices that posed a tangible danger to life and limb
and were not in any form posing a threat to Palestinian homes. The work was
done while exercising maximum caution and prudence and without the ability to
foresee harming anyone.