Credit Nitsana Darshan -Leitner of Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) and US co-counsel for today’s verdict award by Federal Judge Daniels in a case brought against the Palestinian Authority arising from terrorist funding activities during the Second Intifada fomented by the late Yassir Arafat of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. Newsweek reported:
In the first ruling of its kind, a U.S. court has found the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization liable for damages suffered by 10 American families whose relatives were injured or killed in attacks in Israel.
The six shootings and bomb attacks in question took place between 2002 and 2004, during the second intifada, or uprising, killing 33 and wounding more than 450. The lawsuit was filed in 2004 and was tried in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York.
“This historic verdict against the defendants will not bring back these families’ loved ones nor heal the physical and psychological wounds inflicted upon them but it truly is an important measure of justice and closure for them after their long years of tragic suffering and pain,” Israel-based law office Shurat HaDin, which worked on the case, said in a statement after the verdict on Monday.
The plaintiffs argued that the two organizations supported the attacks—whether via direct involvement or assistance in the form of material support or training. They also allegedly paid those who carried out the attacks and continue to compensate perpetrators who were imprisoned as well as the families of those who died.
Since the plaintiffs are all U.S. citizens, the case was tried in the country under the Antiterrorism Act signed into law by then President Bill Clinton in 1996, which gives American courts jurisdiction over acts of terrorism that harm U.S. citizens abroad.
“We are truly grateful that an American court has heard the evidence against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO and determined that suicide terrorism was indeed their official policy during the Second Intifada,” said the statement from Shurat HaDin sent in an email to Newsweek. It continued:
We started out more than a decade ago with the intent of making the defendants pay for their terrorist crimes against innocent civilians and letting them know that there will eventually be a price to be paid for sending suicide bombers onto our buses and into our cafes. The defendants have already been boasting that they will appeal the decision and we will never collect on the judgment. We will not allow them to make a mockery of the US court process, however, and we continue to pursue them until it is paid in full. If the PA and PLO have the funds to pay the families of the suicide bombers each month, then they have the money to pay these victims of Palestinian terrorism.
The New York Times Breaking News report places both incumbent President Mahmoud Abbas and the Administration in a quandary, as the Netanyahu government has withheld $100 million in monthly tax revenue remittances used to fund the PA operations because of the latter pursuit of claims of war crimes brought before the International Criminal Court at The Hague in the Netherlands. Perhaps the award of $218.5 million might be paid as compensation to Israeli and US victims of Palestinian terrorism from those taxation remittances witheld by Israel. Kol Hakavod to Ms. Leitner and the team at Shurat HaDinand US co-counsel. Their motto is: “Bankrupting Terrrorism, One Law Suit at a Time.”
Below is the New York Times report:
The Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization were found liable on Monday by a jury in Manhattan for their role in knowingly supporting six terrorist attacks in Israel between 2002 and 2004 in which Americans were killed and injured.
The jury in Federal District Court in Manhattan awarded $218.5 million in damages, a number that is automatically tripled to $655.5 million under the special terrorism law under which the case was brought.
The verdict ended a decade-long legal battle to hold the Palestinian organizations responsible for the terrorist acts. And while the decision was a huge victory for the dozens of plaintiffs, it also could serve to strengthen the Israeli claim that the supposedly more moderate Palestinian forces are directly tied to terrorism.
The financial implications of the verdict for the defendants were not immediately clear. The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, had serious financial troubles even before Israel, as punishment for the Palestinians’ move in December to join the International Criminal Court, began withholding more than $100 million a month in tax revenue it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf.
The verdict came in the seventh week of a civil trial in which the jury had heard emotional testimony from survivors of suicide bombings and other attacks in Jerusalem, in which a total of 33 people were killed and more than 450 were injured.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.