The Middle East Channel

Israeli court ruled death of U.S. activist an accident

On Tuesday, the Haifa District Court ruled that Israel was not responsible for the death of Rachel Corrie, a U.S. activist killed in 2003 when crushed by a military bulldozer as she was protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip. In March 2003, during the second intifada, Corrie, wearing an orange vest, ...

JACK GUEZ/AFP/GettyImages
JACK GUEZ/AFP/GettyImages

On Tuesday, the Haifa District Court ruled that Israel was not responsible for the death of Rachel Corrie, a U.S. activist killed in 2003 when crushed by a military bulldozer as she was protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip. In March 2003, during the second intifada, Corrie, wearing an orange vest, stood between an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer and the home of a Palestinian family. The army was demolishing houses as in a campaign to put a stop to attacks on soldiers and Jewish settlers in southern Gaza. According to the United Nations, the military displaced over 17,000 Gazans during the Palestinian uprising that began in 2000. The lawyer representing Israel claimed the bulldozer driver had not seen Corrie, while the lawyer for the Corrie family showed pictures of Rachel in the bright vest maintaining, "anyone could have seen." Reading the verdict, Judge Oded Bershon said the death was a "regrettable accident" during "a military activity mean to protest terrorist activity." He continued, "She chose to put herself in danger. She could have easily distanced herself from the danger like and reasonable person would." The Corrie family launched the civil case after a military investigation cleared the army of wrongdoing. Next, they plan to appeal the decision to Israel’s Supreme Court.

Syria

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem spoke to a Western journalist for the first time since the beginning of the uprising in 2011 defending the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and implicating the United States and other "foreign elements." In his office, where the raging conflict in Damascus and its suburbs was distractingly audible, Muallem said he was sad for the situation in Syria, but that 60 percent of the violence comes from abroad, including Turkey, Qatar, and the United States. Meanwhile, France has called for the development of a provisional Syrian government, which President Francois Hollande said he would recognize as soon as it is formed. Additionally, he said France, along with the United States and Britain, would see any use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government as legitimate justification for a military intervention. He continued that France is collaborating with other countries on the possibility of establishing a "buffer zone." At the same time, Iran has committed to sending commanders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as well as hundreds of troops to Syria in efforts to aid the Syrian military. Meanwhile, opposition activists estimate that 62 people were killed in the suburbs of Damascus on Monday, with government fighter planes targeting Zemalka and Saqba. After pounding Aleppo for weeks, it appears Syrian forces are turning back to Damascus.

Headlines  

  • Fishermen rescued 33 Egyptians in the Mediterranean Sea near Libya when their boat, thought to be going to Europe, capsized, while seven others remain missing.
  • Iran announced it has no plan to open up Iran’s nuclear sites to visitors from the non-aligned movement despite insinuating earlier that it would.
  • On Monday, Iraq executed 21 people on terror-related charges including three women despite condemnation from Amnesty International over the practice.

Arguments & Analysis

Isolating Iran?’ (Najmedin Meshkati and Guive Mirfendereski, Los Angeles Times)

"As the gathering of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran demonstrates, Iran is isolated mostly in the minds of some U.S. policymakers and their cheerleading pundits. It is U.S. interests that suffer as a consequence. By not reckoning with Iran as a major player in the Middle East, the U.S. deprives the American private sector of a lucrative market, indirectly keeps Israel’s security in a state of limbo and deepens the stagnation in the Arab-Israeli peace process. A fresh and bold approach to U.S.-Iran relations is not only desirable but imperative for the United States’ national interests in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa."

Egypt Today and Tomorrow’ (The Cairo Review of Global Affairs)

"Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby says in a Cairo Review of Global Affairs interview published today that the Arab region is headed toward a renaissance after decades of military rule, but cautions ‘nothing is going to come overnight.’

In a wide-ranging interview with the quarterly journal of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo, Elaraby said that the common denominator in countries most affected by the Arab uprisings "is all have been governed for a number of years by regimes that came to power by coup d’etat. And they promised a lot for the people. Time passed, and they could not deliver." He warned that the transition to democracy will take time, citing the experience of Eastern European nations after the fall of Communism. "What is needed in all Arab Spring countries is a modern secular state that will be able to run things for the sake of the people. By the people and for the people," he said. "What I would say to the people who are going to Tahrir Square is that nothing is going to come overnight."

The Gazan and the general’ (Sari Bashi, Haaretz)

"The defense establishment continues to ignore the High Court’s 2007 recommendation to allow exceptions for students. Meanwhile, more than 4,000 Palestinians per month, about half of them businesspeople, are crossing into Israel from Gaza via the Erez checkpoint.

In his answer to the High Court of Justice, Maj. Gen. Dangot claimed that he could only state the weighty security and political reasons for depriving Shahada of the right to a master’s degree, which would help her improve the status of women in Gaza, in a closed session and without her attorney present. Is he doing this in order to weaken the Hamas regime? It does not seem to me that Hamas would be upset over the silencing of women’s rights activists in Gaza. Is the goal to stop the rocket fire? Research shows that empowering women in a society decreases militarism within it (as Israeli women’s rights activists know well). Is there a general fear of regional instability?

It is hard to imagine anything more beneficial for a society undergoing change and upheaval than women’s empowerment."

By Mary Casey

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