THE family of peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed to death by an Israel Defence Forces bulldozer, described a judge's ruling absolving the military of responsibility in her killing as another step in Israel's attempt to cover up the truth.
''The state [of Israel] has worked extremely hard to ensure the full truth of what happened to my daughter is not exposed and those responsible are not held accountable,'' Rachel Corrie's mother, Cindy, said.
''I believe that this was a bad day, not only for our family, but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law and also for the country of Israel,'' she said after the verdict in the Haifa District Court.
Mrs Corrie described Israel's civilian and military courts as a ''well-heeled system to protect the Israeli military and the soldiers who conduct actions in that military to provide them with impunity at the cost of all the civilians who are impacted by what they do.
''From the beginning, from the military police investigation in 2003, there was testimony from the two people who were in that bulldozer, the driver and the commander, that conflicted [and] that was never addressed - the story changed and changed and changed again,'' Mrs Corrie said.
The family will appeal to Israel's Supreme Court.
Judge Oded Gershon ruled the 23-year-old American's death in the southern Gaza Strip during a protest against house demolitions by the Israeli military was an accident and the IDF was not responsible for combat activities in a closed military zone. There was no fault in the military's investigation of its soldiers' actions, the judge said.
Ms Corrie had put herself in danger and could have saved herself by moving to safety, he said.
''Impunity has prevailed over accountability and fairness,'' said Corrie family lawyer Hussein Abu Hussein. ''Today, this court has given its stamp of approval to flawed and illegal practices that failed to protect civilian life … the verdict blames the victim based on distorted facts and it could have been written directly by the state attorneys.''
The Israeli government released a statement in response to the verdict, describing Ms Corrie's death as ''without a doubt a tragic accident''.
Ms Corrie's death occurred amid the second Palestinian intifada, when suicide bombers from the occupied territories were killing hundreds in Israel and the IDF had an overwhelming presence in Gaza.
The United States government told the Corrie family it believed Israel's investigation into the incident was flawed, Ms Corrie's older sister, Sarah Corrie Simpson, said.
''They believe it was a failed investigation and the US government continues to stand by that position,'' she said.
''I can say without a doubt that I believe my sister was seen as that bulldozer approached her. As to the intent of that driver, I hope one day he has the courage to sit down with me and tell me what he saw and what he feels,'' she said.