It is with a heavy heart that I share the news with you that an Israeli court ruled today that the military was not at fault for killing Rachel Corrie, a U.S. activist crushed by an army bulldozer during a 2003 demonstration in Gaza. The court rejected the lawsuit filed in 2005 on behalf of the Corrie family by attorney Hussein abu Hussein which charged the State of Israel with responsibility for Rachel’s killing and failure to conduct a full and credible investigation in the case.
It seems fitting to share with you all the message Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Boycott National Committee sent to BDS supporters this morning:
It's a sad day for humanity, for the Corries, for Palestinians, for all people of conscience around the world ...
Cindy and Craig, we share your hurt. We share your indignation at this Israeli mockery of justice which is typical of this unjust system.
This latest and widely expected Israeli court whitewash underlines what the UN Goldstone Report had proven after the Israeli massacre in Gaza in 2008-09. Referring to “structural flaws” in the so-called Israeli justice system, the report concluded that Israel cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards.[Goldstone Report, paragraph 1756]
Precisely! In too many cases to enumerate here, Israel's courts have rarely sentenced Jewish-Israeli criminals for killing or injuring Palestinians or wantonly destroying their property. According to Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din,
"... 91% of investigations [by Israeli police in the OPT] into crimes committed by Israelis against Palestinians and their property are closed without indictments being served. 84% of the investigation files are closed because of the investigators' failure to locate suspects and evidence. ... Indictments were served in less than 3% of these cases."
Even as early as 1996, at the height of the so-called "peace process," an Israeli settler fatally pistol-whipped 11-year-old Palestinian child Hilmi Shusha near Bethlehem for no apparent reason. An Israeli judge first acquitted the murderer, saying the child "died on his own as a result of emotional pressure., After numerous appeals and under pressure from the Supreme Court, which termed the act "light killing," the judge reconsidered and, as the Intifada was raging, sentenced the killer to six months of community service and a fine of a few thousand dollars. The boy’s father accused the court of issuing a "license to kill." [Reuters, January 22, 2001; Phil Reeves, "Fury as court frees settler, The Independent, January 22, 2001]
Gideon Levy of Haaretz eloquently described the fine at the time as the "end-of-the-season" clearance price on Palestinian children’s lives, referring to the findings of B’tselem, Israel’s leading human rights organization, which documented dozens of similar cases in which perpetrators were either acquitted or received a slap on the wrist. [Gideon Levy, Haaretz, January 28, 2001]
Adding insult to injury, the complicit Israeli judge in this case implied that Rachel was not a "thinking person" because of her heroic nonviolent attempt to stand against an indisputable war crime.
Given that Israel's courts, like their South African counterparts during apartheid, have systematically and consistently been a reliable pillar of Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid, Israel's war crimes and crimes against humanity ought to be prosecuted in international courts where justice has a chance to see the day of light.
This should also convince anyone who still needed to be convinced that without effective BDS against Israel it will never comply with international law. This is the lesson of South Africa.
Thank you to Omar for these motivating words.
YOU CAN TAKE ACTION: In the wake of this verdict, the We Divest Campaign, a national coalition demanding pension fund giant TIAA-CREF divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, is intensifying its call for divestment from Caterpillar Inc. For more information and to sign the petition to divest from TIAA-CREF, click here: http://wedivest.org
Thank you for standing for justice,
Elisabeth Geschiere on behalf of MN BBC