World Bulletin / News Desk
A U.N. investigator condemned an Israeli court on Thursday for clearing the military of blame for the killing of American activist crushed by an army bulldozer, calling it a "victory for impunity".
The ruling handed down on Tuesday on the civil suit brought by the family of Rachel Corrie was part of a pattern of decisions exonerating Israeli military actions and political leaders, said Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.
"The judge's decision represents a defeat for justice and accountability, and a victory for impunity for the Israeli military," Falk said in a statement issued in Geneva.
Corrie's family accused Israel of intentionally and unlawfully killing their 23-year-old daughter in March 2003, launching a civil case in the northern city of Haifa after a military investigation found the army was not responsible.
Corrie had joined activists trying to stop the Israeli army from demolishing Palestinian homes in the southern Gaza town of Rafah during a Palestinian uprising. The family has said it will appeal the ruling.
Judge Oded Gershon invoked a clause that absolved the army because the incident had happened during a wartime situation.
But Falk said that the decision "flies directly in the face of the Geneva Conventions, which impose on an occupying power an unconditional obligation to protect the civilian population".
As an aid worker, Corrie was entitled to protection by occupying forces and the house demolition appeared to violate the pact's prohibition on targeting civilian property, he said.
"This is a sad outcome, above all for the Corrie family ... but also for the rule of law and the hope that an Israeli court would place limits on the violence of the state, particularly in relation to innocent and unarmed civilians in an occupied territory," he said.
Falk, an American expert on international law serving as an independent U.N. expert since 2008, is a vocal critic of Israel, accusing it of crimes against humanity for its blockade of Gaza.
Falk, who is Jewish, was detained and turned back from Israel in 2008, forcing him to abort a planned mission to Gaza - a deportation denounced by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
A gunman killed seven people Thursday night in four separate locations in the U.S. state of Missouri before turning the gun on himself
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The casualties have taken place in three separate attacks across the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
Turkish Foreign Ministry has condemned the partial torching of a Greek-Orthodox seminary in West Jerusalem
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Leading members of the Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad movements led the protest, in which protesters waved Palestinian flags and shouted, "Down with Zionist terrorism"
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BMKG, Indonesia's meteorological agency, said the quake occurred in the middle of the ocean about 104 km northwest of East Flores.
Peshmerga forces prevent Arabs from returning to their homes in disputed territories claimed by Erbil and Baghdad, according to Human Rights Watch.
The capture of Tel Hamis was announced by the Kurdish YPG militia and confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the country's civil war.