So what actually happened the day Rachel Corrie died? Here’s the judge’s determination of the facts:
e. I hereby determine that, on the day of the incident, the two bulldozers and the armored personnel carrier were occupied with the clear military operational task of clearing the land in a dangerous area which posed a significant risk. The force’s action was designed to prevent acts of terror and hostility, i.e. to eliminate the danger of terrorists hiding between the creases of land and in the brush, and to expose explosive devices hidden therein, both of which were intended to kill IDF soldiers. During each act of exposure, the lives of the IDF fighters were at risk from Palestinians terrorists. As aforementioned, less than an hour before the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF force.
f. On March 16, 2003, the decedent and her fellow ISM activists arrived at the location where the IDF force was working to clear the land. They did so, they claim, in order to prevent the IDF force from demolishing Palestinian houses. They did so illegally and in contradiction of the military directive declaring the area a “closed military area”. They held signs, stood in front of the bulldozers and did not allow them to carry out their mission. The IDF soldiers informed the activists that they had to distance themselves from the area, threw stun grenades towards them, fired warning shots towards them and used methods to disperse demonstrations. All without avail.
The IDF force was very careful not to harm the Organization’s activists. Because of the activists’ interference, the force repeatedly relocated to continue carrying out their mission.
g. Based on the evidence presented to me, including the testimony of the expert for the prosecution, Mr. Osben, I hereby determine that at approximately 17:00, the decedent stood roughly 15 to 20 meters from the relevant bulldozer and knelt down. The bulldozer to which I refer was a large, clumsy and shielded vehicle of the DR9 model. The field of view the bulldozer’s operator had inside the bulldozer was limited. At a certain point, the bulldozer turned and moved toward the decedent. The bulldozer pushed a tall pile of dirt. With regard to the field of view that the bulldozer’s operator had, the decedent was in the “blind spot”. The decedent was behind the bulldozer’s blade and behind a pile of dirt and therefore the bulldozer’s operator could not have seen her.
The bulldozer moved very slowly, at a speed of one kilometer per hour.
When the decedent saw the pile of dirt moving towards her, she did not move, as any reasonable person would have. She began to climb the pile of dirt. Therefore, both because the pile of dirt continued to move as a result of the pushing of the bulldozer, and because the dirt was loose, the decedent was trapped in the pile of dirt and fell.
At this stage, the decedent’s legs were buried in the pile of dirt, and when her colleagues saw from where they stood that the decedent was trapped in the pile of dirt, they ran towards the bulldozer and gestured towards its operator and yelled at him to stop. By the time the bulldozer’s operator and his commander noticed the decedent’s colleagues and stopped the bulldozer, a significant portion of the decedent’s body was already covered in dirt.
The decedent’s entire body was not covered in dirt. In fact, when the bulldozer backed up, the decedent’s body was seen to free itself from the pile of dirt and the decedent was still alive.
The decedent was evacuated to the hospital and after 20 minutes, her death was declared.
I hereby determine unequivocally that there is no foundation to the plaintiffs’ claim that the bulldozer struck the decedent intentionally. This was a very unfortunate accident and was not intentional. No one wished to harm the decedent. I was convinced that the bulldozer’s operator would not have continued to work if he had seen the decedent standing in front of the bulldozer, as he and his colleagues acted in similar circumstances earlier that day, when they moved from location to location because of the disturbances caused by the members of the Organization.
h. Because I find, as aforementioned, that the decedent was accidentally killed in the framework of a “war-related activity” as defined in The Civil Wrongs Ordinance, and in light of the instructions laid out in Article 5 of the aforementioned ordinance, the State bears no responsibility for the damages inflicted on the plaintiffs resulting from a war-related action.
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