More than 11 years after their 23-year-old daughter was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes, the parents of peace activist Rachel Corrie are still seeking justice.
Their legal battle to get accountability took a significant on Wednesday when their appeal was heard before the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem.
The move comes 9 years after the Corrie family first filed suit against the state of Israel and its armed forces over their responsibility for Rachel's death. But in 2012, a district court in Haifa rejected the suit — a decision widely condemned as a denial of justice.
"During the past nine years, we have sought accountability in the Israeli courts for Rachel’s killing but were handed a verdict that showed blind indifference to the rights of the victim and little interest in seeking truth and justice," Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father, said in a statement.
"The Supreme Court now has a choice, to either show the world that the Israeli legal system honors the most basic principles of human rights and can hold its military accountable, or to add to mounting evidence that justice can not be found in Israel," he continued.
As his wife, Cindy, added, "I think there are very important decisions that this court needs to make that impact far more than Rachel." And, as a coalition of rights groups added, the Corrie case in not an anomaly.
A joint statement from Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Al-Haq, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) reads, in part:
The impunity so far enjoyed by Israel and Israeli officials in the Rachel Corrie case is not an anomaly. Impunity reigns when the victim is Palestinian or a foreigner working in solidarity with Palestinians. Israeli forces subject Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory on a daily basis to serious violations of international law, and Palestinian civilians are killed each year without accountability and redress. Civilians and human rights defenders must be granted the protections of international law, and all governments must be held to account when they violate fundamental human rights. In Rachel Corrie’s case, the Israeli Supreme Court has an opportunity to turn that tide.
The United States government also has a clear responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens acting as human rights defenders, and we condemn the deference it has shown to Israel in the case of Rachel Corrie as well as numerous other U.S. human rights defenders killed or injured by Israeli forces. The U.S. must demand real accountability in all cases involving violations against civilians by Israeli forces. No family should have to wait eleven years – or more – for justice.
On the Israeli Supreme Court's decision, Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at CCR, and a Vice-President of the International Board of the FIDH, writes, "The world will be watching."