About 30 people gathered Wednesday evening at Traditions Cafe in downtown Olympia to participate in a video conference with Craig and Cindy Corrie, a day after an Israeli judge rejected their lawsuit to hold Israel responsible for their death of their daughter.
“I know that you understand that we’re greatly disappointed,” Cindy Corrie said from Israel, where it was nearly 5 a.m. She said the judge had made up his mind about the case, that he disregarded “the positions brought forward by our attorneys, by the information and evidence that had been brought forward.”
Her husband, Craig, said they are consulting with attorneys and haven’t decided whether to appeal.
Judge Oded Gershon on Tuesday rejected claims that the driver of an Israeli bulldozer acted recklessly when it crushed Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old former student of The Evergreen State College, in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah in 2003.
An Israeli army investigation had ruled the death an accident and said the bulldozer driver and other military personnel in the area acted properly. Corrie’s supporters have said the investigation was poorly handled and the driver acted recklessly, perhaps even intentionally running her over.
In Tuesday’s verdict, the judge backed the military’s version of events. Corrie “put herself in a dangerous situation,” he said, calling her death “the result of an accident she brought upon herself.” He also said the military investigation was handled properly.
“It seemed to be really just a statement of what the state of Israel had claimed and what they argued,” Cindy Corrie said.
The family sought a symbolic $1 judgment, in addition to the $200,000 they say they’ve incurred in legal expenses over the years.
Cindy Corrie said she had just seen a seven-page English summary of the verdict, but that the whole verdict was 70 pages and in Hebrew, and has yet to be translated.
She noted that former President Jimmy Carter had addressed the verdict.
“The killing of an American peace activist is unacceptable,” Carter said in a news release from the Carter Center, his nonprofit peace organization. “The court’s decision confirms a climate of impunity, which facilitates Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territory.”
But prosecutors argued Rachel Corrie knowingly entered a closed military zone and area of violent conflict. Cindy Corrie said court testimony disputed that the area was a closed military zone.
Rachel Corrie belonged to the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, whose activists enter conflict zones and try to interfere with activities of Israel’s military in the West Bank and Gaza, territories the Palestinians claim.
Several members have been killed or maimed in confrontations with the military, which accuses them of behaving recklessly in dangerous, chaotic situations, often in areas where civilians were barred.
Friends who were with Corrie have said they believed the Caterpillar D9 bulldozer they were blocking was about to demolish the nearby home of a Palestinian family Corrie was living with.
The Israeli army had been undertaking systematic house demotions in the densely populated, violent area along the Egyptian border. It said the homes were used for cover by militants to attack soldiers and Jewish settlers.
The demolitions left some 17,000 Palestinians homeless, according to U.N. reports. The policy of razing homes sparked international condemnation at the time.
Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, and Palestinians took control. Since, Gaza militants have fired thousands of rockets at Israel, triggering cross-border raids and a three-week war in 2008.
After Rachel’s death, the Corries founded the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice, based in Olympia.
“I’m really hoping that people don’t get sad, that they get mad …” Austin Nolen, a foundation representative, said in an interview.
He said it’s a “chance to turn around and really reinvigorate the struggle here and the struggle elsewhere in the United States and the world.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.