Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Rachel Corrie lawsuit result, Gaza versus the Warsaw Ghetto

 From: Sid Shniad <> Aug 28 06:29PM -0700


*The Guardian 28 August 2012
*Rachel Corrie lawsuit result 'dangerous precedent' say human rights groups

*Concern ruling will allow Israel to exploit 'legal black hole' and avoid
responsibility for its actions *

Harriet Sherwood <>,
Jerusalem correspondent

Human rights organisations have warned of a "dangerous precedent" following
an Israeli court's dismissal of a civil lawsuit over the death of US
activist Rachel Corrie <>,
which stated that Israel <> could not
be held responsible because its army was engaged in a combat operation.

Corrie "was accidentally killed in the framework of a 'war-related
activity' ... [and] the state bears no responsibility for the damages
inflicted on the plaintiffs resulting from a war-related action," said
Judge Oded Gershon at Haifa district court.

The 23-year-old activist was crushed by a military bulldozer which she
believed was intent on demolishing a Palestinian home in Rafah, southern
Gaza, in March 2003. Gershon ruled that it was a "regrettable accident"
that Corrie had brought upon herself. There had been no fault in the
internal Israeli military investigation, which cleared the bulldozer driver
of any blame, the court found. "The deceased was in a blind spot – the
operator didn't see her," said Gershon.

Corrie had "put herself in a dangerous situation" and could have saved
herself by moving out of the zone of danger, he said. The area was "the
site of daily warfare" and a closed military zone, and the US government
had warned its citizens not to go there.

Hussein Abu Hussein, the Corrie family's lawyer, said the ruling sent "a
very dangerous message and precedent that there are no restrictions on
Israeli military behaviour in Gaza and the West Bank". The ruling would
"close the doors of justice to civilian victims", including foreigners, and
"expand a legal black hole" in which Israel seeks to evade responsibility
for its actions.

The verdict, he said, was "yet another example of where impunity has
prevailed over accountability and fairness. We knew from the beginning that
we had an uphill battle to get truthful answers and justice, but we are
convinced that this verdict distorts the strong evidence presented in
court, and contradicts fundamental principles of international law with
regard to protection of human rights defenders. In denying justice in
Rachel Corrie's killing, this verdict speaks to the systemic failure to
hold the Israeli military accountable for continuing violations of basic
human rights."

Human Rights Watch said the ruling contravened international law, which is
intended to protect non-combatants in war zones, and set "a dangerous
precedent". "The idea that there can be no fault for killing civilians in a
combat operation flatly contradicts Israel's international legal
obligations to spare civilians from harm during armed conflict and to
credibly investigate and punish violations by its forces," said Bill van
Esveld, a senior Middle East researcher at HRW.

Shawan Jabarin, director of the Palestinian human rights organisation, Al
Haq, said: "Israel has claimed that it is not responsible for the death of
a civilian in armed conflict. However, this flatly ignores international
law, which stipulates that Israel is under an obligation to take all
measures to ensure that no civilians will be harmed during hostilities, and
must at all times distinguish between military targets and civilians.

"The presence of a civilian in a combat zone does in any way not affect
their right to protection. Instead, their protected status applies
regardless of their location in a conflict, and international law clearly
states that they must be protected against acts of violence in all

Corrie's parents, Cindy and Craig, of Olympia, Washington State, sued the
state of Israel, accusing it of the unlawful or intentional killing of
their daughter or of gross negligence.

The family was "deeply saddened and deeply troubled" by the ruling, Cindy
Corrie said afterwards. "I believe this was a bad day, not only for our
family, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and also for the
country of Israel." The state, she said, "has worked extremely hard to make
sure that the truth about what happened to my daughter is not known and
those responsible will not be held accountable". The family will appeal to
the supreme court.

The Israeli justice ministry described Corrie's death as "a tragic
accident". The bulldozer driver and his commander were "exonerated of any
blame for negligence", it said in a statement.

At the time of Corrie's death, house demolitions were common; part of an
increasing cycle of violence from both sides. The Israeli Defence Forces
(IDF) said the homes it targeted were harbouring militants or weapons or
being used to conceal arms-smuggling tunnels under the border. Human rights
groups said the demolitions were collective punishment. Between 2000 and
2004, the Israeli military demolished 1,700 homes in Rafah, leaving about
17,000 people homeless, according to the Israeli human rights organisation

Corrie was one of a group of around eight international activists acting as
human shields against the demolitions. Fellow activists said she was
clearly within the line of sight of the bulldozer driver, who drove
straight at her.

Israel promised a "thorough, credible and transparent" investigation into
her death. Within a month, an IDF internal inquiry had concluded that the
driver of the bulldozer had not seen the activist and that no charges would
be brought.

During the Corries' civil lawsuit, which lasted almost two and a half
years, the bulldozer driver testified anonymously from behind a screen for
"security reasons". He insisted that the first time he saw the activist was
when he "saw people pulling the body out from under the earth".

His commanding officer, Colonel Pinhas Zuaretz, told the court that Rafah
was a war zone in 2003 and said that "reasonable people would not be there
unless they had aims of attacking our forces".

    Sid Shniad <> Aug 28 10:21AM -0700

    Global Research <>
    August 23, 2012

    *Gaza versus the Warsaw Ghetto: Double Standards in Assessing Crimes
    against Humanity *
    *By Felicity Arbuthnot*

    "Do not hold the delusion that your advancement is accomplished by
    crushing others."(Marcus Tullius Cicero,106-43 B.C.)

    “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of
    moral crisis maintain their neutrality." (Dante, c1265-1321.)

    One of the haunting images of Jewish heroism, lauded in history books and
    Holocaust commemorations, is the courage of those, especially the young, in
    the Warsaw Ghetto, when in 1940, Jewish Warsaw residents were ordered by
    the German invaders into a small section of the city.

    The courage of those who dug tunnels, smuggled goods necessary for survival
    in, and communications in and out, has rightly become a legendary act of
    resistance and courage, defiance in the shadow of despotism and repression.

    The people of Gaza (roughly seventy five percent of whom are under twenty
    five) have had even the water in their natural springs stolen by a
    population to whom James Arthur Balfour’s sparse words promised: "the
    establishment of a home in Palestine for the Jewish people ... it being
    clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil
    and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine … "

    The Jewish families were contained in their enclave by an up to three metre
    high wall. The people of Gaza, ironically, are largely contained by a wall
    up to eleven metres high – twice the height of the Berlin Wall.

    The Palestinians, their lands, homes, even cemeteries, stolen and
    destroyed, their ancient olive groves - some trees a thousand years old -
    burned or stolen to grace often illegal settlements, their people spat at,
    imprisoned, tortured, bombed, walled in, is now also near land-locked by
    Israel's maritime aggression in Gaza's territorial waters. Even fishing,
    unfettered access to their bountiful fish stocks are often denied,
    threatened by gun boats.

    Gaza, since 2000 especially, has become a sunnier Warsaw Ghetto. Imports
    are strangulatingly controlled or totally prohibited by Israel, thus
    lifeline tunnels have also been dug between Gaza and Egypt.

    In the building of one such desperation-driven structure: "in the cold,
    often trapped and suffocating under water or collapsing walls of dirt and
    concrete, eighty two people died", working in shifts, twenty four hours a
    day, Hyam Noir and Fady Adwan write graphically.

    Goods brought through the tunnels, as in Nazi occupied Warsaw seventy years
    earlier, are life's necessities for survival and include medicines, food,
    clothes, vital spare parts, foreign currency.

    World governments either collude with this ongoing humanitarian tragedy and
    legal shame, or simply ignore Gaza's plight. That Balfour stated clearly
    that the Jewish people were to be guests in Palestine, not jailers and
    conquerors, has been ignored from literally, day one. For building their
    subterranean mainstay, the rightful residents of Palestine are called

    Shame on every politician, of any country who colludes with, or ignores
    this ongoing obscenity.

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