The Haifa District Court rejected on Tuesday accusations that Israel was at fault over the death of American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an army bulldozer during a 2003 pro-Palestinian demonstration in Gaza.
Corrie's family had accused Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their 23-year-old daughter, launching a civil case in the northern Israeli city of Haifa after a military investigation had cleared the army of wrong-doing.
In a ruling read out to the court, judge Oded Gershon called Corrie's death a "regrettable accident", but said the state was not responsible because the incident had occurred during what he termed a war-time situation.
At the time of her death, during a Palestinian uprising, Corrie was protesting against Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
"I reject the suit," the judge said. "There is no justification to demand the state pay any damages."
He added that the soldiers had done their utmost to keep people away from the site, "warning the activists time and again." Gershon explained that the bulldozer operator's field of vision was limited. "The deceased was in a blind spot, the operator didn't see her."
The judge found fault in the activists' actions, saying, "The activists defied general orders…She (Corrie) did not distance herself from the area, as any person would have done."
Attorney Husain Abu Husain, who represented the Corrie family at the hearing, said, "The court sanctioned the harming of innocent persons and the violation of basic human rights. This is a bad ruling for human rights and for international law." Husain said the family intends to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Corrie's death made her a symbol of the uprising, and while her family battled through the courts to establish who was responsible for her killing, her story was dramatized on stage in a dozen countries and told in the book "Let Me Stand Alone."
"I am hurt," Corrie's mother, Cindy, told reporters after the verdict was read.
Corrie came from Olympic, Washington and was a volunteer with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement.
Senior U.S. officials criticized the original military investigation into the case, saying it had been neither thorough nor credible. But the judge said the inquiry had been appropriate and pinned no blame on the army.
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