by Ray Fleming

Few people will have been surprised, but many will have been angry, at the decision this week by a Haifa court that the State of Israel had no responsibility for the death of the American Rachel Corrie who was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer when protesting against the demolition of Palestinian houses in March 2003. An earlier Army inquiry found that the bulldozer driver did not see Ms Corrie and the court said it could not fault the Army's conclusion - even though several witnesses testified that she was standing on a mound of earth and holding a protest banner.

Few will have been surprised, but many will have been angry, at this week's decision by the US Army and US Marines not to institute criminal prosecution or serious military discipline against the US Marines who were filmed urinating on Taliban corpses in Afghanistan - or at the earlier case of US army personnel burning 500 copies of the Koran - or at the refusal of Israeli government to accept responsibility for the passengers who were killed when an unarmed ship carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza was boarded by Israeli military in international waters. Why do the military enjoy this kind of immunity almost without exception? Other countries offend but America and Israel are the most frequent and least likely to accept appropriate responsibility. None of these cases were in the heat of battle.

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