An independent UN human rights expert on Thursday condemned [statement, press release] Israel's dismissal of a civil suit brought by the family of an American peace activist. UN Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories Richard Falk criticized the Israeli judge's ruling, calling it a "victory for Israeli impunity." The lawsuit arose from an incident in which American peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 when she was protesting the demolition of her home in Rafah. Judge Gershon appeared to accept the Israeli military's explanation that southern Gaza was a war zone during the disputed incident, and security was the top priority. The judge further held that there was no basis for penalizing Israel or the military and political officials involved in this incident. Falk criticized the court's rationale for directly opposing the Geneva Conventions, which emphasize the importance of protecting civilians. Falk stated that:
Israeli governmental institutions have consistently embraced impunity and non-accountability in responding to well-documented violations of international humanitarian law and in many cases Israel's own criminal law. It is impossible to separate the outcome here from a pattern of similar results exonerating military actions and the political leaders who ordered them, in Israeli investigations of the killing of Palestinian civilians during the Operation Cast Lead attack on Gaza or the commando assault in 2010 on Turkish ships filled with activists bringing humanitarian supplies to the blockaded people of Gaza.Corrie's family intends to appeal this ruling to the Israel Supreme Court.
There has been growing concern over human rights violation in Israel. Earlier this month Amnesty International [advocacy website] said that Israel should investigate the alleged mistreatment of two Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike [JURIST news archive]. Last month a UN special committee, composed of representatives from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Senegal, condemned [JURIST report] Israel's treatment of child detainees. The committee detailed law enforcement practices such as violent raids on homes without warrants, use of solitary confinement, and interrogators pressuring children to become informants. In June Falk called on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes [JURIST report]. The week before that the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression expressed concern over the freedom of speech in Israel and Palestine [JURIST report]. Also in June 50 aid groups and UN offices signed a joint statement urging Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip [JURIST report].