x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Corrie verdict exposes Israel's false narrative

Today, perhaps more than at any time since her death, Rachel Corrie continues to champion the injustice that Palestinians face under occupation.

After nine years of injustice, the Israeli court's decision did not come as much of a surprise. For the parents of the 23-year-old American activist crushed by an Israeli bulldozer as she tried to stop it from demolishing a Palestinian home, there will be no justice from an Israeli court. But today, perhaps more than at any time since her death, Rachel Corrie continues to fight the injustice that Palestinians face under occupation.

Yesterday, a court in Haifa rejected a lawsuit brought by Corrie's parents in 2005 against the military, ruling that the driver of the army bulldozer was not responsible for her death and absolving the Israeli Defence Forces of any fault. Contrary to the accounts of four witnesses and photographic evidence, the bulldozer driver has insisted that he did not see Corrie, although she was wearing a fluorescent orange jacket.

While there was disappointment for Corrie's family and supporters, the awareness that the case has raised, especially over the past week, champions the cause for which she died. Palestinians today face an unrelenting threat from Israeli settlements and forced locations from Area C, which makes up 61 per cent of the West Bank.

The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice has been a driving force behind the Boycott, Divest, Sanction campaign that has targeted companies with links to the IDF. Caterpillar, which sells bulldozers to Israel, including the one that killed Corrie, has been a particular target. And as the columnist Gavin du Venage writes today, last week South Africa became the first country to insist that goods produced in the Occupied Territories be distinguished from those made in Israel.

The Gaza of today is in an even-more sorry state than the one Corrie left behind. In the early hours yesterday, Israeli air strikes pounded Hamas compounds, although no one was reported killed.

Also yesterday, a United Nations Relief and Works Agency report detailed why Gaza will be unfit to live in by 2020. The suffocating Israeli blockade - which has turned Gaza into an open-air prison and metes out collective punishment on the population - prevents improvements in infrastructure, sanitation, electricity and water, not to mention social services. In eight years, with the population projected to grow by 500,000 people, conditions will be unlivable.

Israel's compromised judiciary was almost guaranteed to vindicate the military - if it found that killing a 23-year-old peace activist was wrong, it would set a precedent for other similar crimes. Corrie was a daughter and an activist, but now she is also a symbol. Along with the accounts of so many killed, unlawfully detained or forced from their homes, her story contradicts Israel's false narrative by which it tries to justify occupation.