Israeli judge Oded Gershon of the Haifa District Court ruled today that the Israeli soldier driving the bulldozer that crushed Rachel Corrie in 2003 was not at fault for her death, but rather that Rachel herself was responsible. Accordingly, Ms. Corrie will be indicted for her own murder and tried in absentia. She faces a potential penalty of life in prison.
According to the soldier, he did not see Ms. Corrie at the time.
“I saw her before the unfortunate incident, and afterwards, when her friends dug her out of the flattened earth. However, I could not possibly have seen her at the time of her death, because my bulldozer was on top of her, and no one can see what is underneath a bulldozer while operating it. Furthermore, her reflective jacket was blinding me and the sound of her bullhorn was interfering with my concentration.
“Naturally, I would have prevented this terrible accident if I could, but she was only one hundred feet in front of me when I first saw her, and I was probably traveling at a speed of two miles per hour. At that rate I would have covered the distance between me and her in less than sixty seconds and therefore have been unable to stop in time even if I had applied the brakes.”
Judge Gershon also ruled that Ms. Corrie was not killed by a bulldozer, but rather by a slab of concrete that fell on her, but which fled the scene after the bulldozer ran over them both. Nevertheless, Ms. Corrie was indicted for reckless endangerment of herself leading to her death. Judge Gershon is a former military judge who also serves as an inspirational speaker on military values. He discounted rumors of his previous service as a bulldozer operator and representative for Caterpillar Corporation.
According to May Kempay, the prosecutor assigned to the case, it appears that Ms. Corrie placed herself in front of the bulldozer expecting to be treated with compassion, in defiance of all experience to the contrary. She had seen enough Israeli military actions to appreciate the callous indifference of the bulldozer operator, which she chose to ignore, and for this reason deserved to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
In a related development, it was reported that the case of Tom Hurndall would be reviewed under appeal to the High Court. Hurndall was mortally wounded by an Israeli army sniper while trying to bring Palestinian children to safety. However, the purpose of the review would be to determine if he had recklessly endangered himself by placing his head in the path of an otherwise harmless Israeli bullet.