Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

US jury orders Palestinian groups to pay bombing victims $218.5m

A United States jury on Monday found the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority liable for supporting terrorist attacks in Israel more than a decade ago that killed dozens of people.

Jurors in Manhattan federal court awarded $218.5-million in damages to 10 American families who brought the case, a sum that is automatically tripled to $655.5-million under a 1992 US anti-terrorism law, lawyers for the families said.

Both defendants said they would appeal. It is unclear whether the plaintiffs can ever collect, though their lawyers vowed to seek out Palestinian assets to satisfy the judgment.

The verdict was the second in less than a year in which a US jury found defendants liable under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which lets US citizens injured by acts of international terrorism pursue damages in federal court.

Hamas support
Last September, a federal jury in Brooklyn found Arab Bank Plc liable for providing material support to Hamas. A separate trial to determine damages is scheduled for this year.

The verdicts could bolster efforts by American victims to hold foreign entities responsible in US courts for overseas attacks.

A 12-member jury on Monday found the PLO and the Palestinian Authority liable for six shootings and bombings between 2002 and 2004 in the Jerusalem area and which have been attributed to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas. The attacks killed 33 people, including several US citizens, and injured more than 450.

“Now the PLO and the PA know there is a price for supporting terrorism,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

Largest judgment
The PLO and the Palestinian Authority have faced similar lawsuits in the past but this was by far the largest judgment entered against the defendants.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s office issued a statement saying both defendants would appeal and calling the allegations in the case “baseless.”

He also cited a decision this month from US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington, D.C., who ruled she did not have jurisdiction over two similar cases.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision “determines the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority for the murderous terrorist attacks of the previous decade.”

The plaintiffs had requested more than $350-million of damages, or more than $1-billion after tripling.

They claimed late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and his agents routinely arranged for attackers to be paid, kept them on Palestinian payrolls and made payments to families of attackers who died.

Rogue employees
Lawyers for the PLO and the Palestinian Authority said those entities condemned the attacks, and blamed them on rogue low-level employees.

The verdict added a new dimension to the long-running Middle East conflict.

Palestinians wish to form a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Palestine has since 2012 been a United Nations “observer state” and Palestinians are expected to join the International Criminal Court, which began an inquiry that could lead to war crime charges against Israel. – Reuters

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

South Africa breaking more temperature records than expected

The country’s climate is becoming ‘more extreme’ as temperature records are broken

More top stories

US fashion contaminates Africa’s water

Untreated effluent from textile factories in in Lesotho, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius and Madagascar pours into rivers, contaminating the water

Deep seabed mining a threat to Africa’s coral reefs

The deep oceans are a fragile final frontier, largely unknown and untouched but mining companies and governments — other than those in Africa — are eying its mineral riches

Komodo dragon faces extinction

The world’s largest monitor lizard has moved up the red list for threatened species, with fewer than 4 000 of the species left

DA says ANC’s implosion has thrown local government elections wide...

The DA launched its 37-page manifesto on a virtual platform under the banner “The DA gets things done”.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×