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Israeli terror victims file massive lawsuit against Arab Bank

The aftermath of the suicide bombing at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001, that killed 15 people, including two Americans, and wounded around 130 others. Photo courtesy of  Flash90.

By AKIVA BIGMAN
(Israel Hayom via JNS) – A group of more than a thousand Israeli victims of Palestinian terror attacks on Monday. Dec. 30, filed an NIS 20 billion ($5.78 billion) lawsuit against the Jordan-based Arab Bank PLC at the Jerusalem District Court, claiming that the bank cooperated with, supported, assisted, funded and encouraged terrorist acts that killed hundreds of people.

This is the first time a bank has been sued in Israel for alleged involvement in financing terrorism, although victims of terrorism have filed suits in the country against both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The Israeli lawsuit follows a similar one filed in the United States in 2004, which was resolved last year through a settlement that paid out some $1 billion to victims of terrorism.

The Israeli lawsuit was filed in the names of the Israelis who were left out of the U.S. suit and is seeking compensation for special damages, punitive damages and future damages. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that foreign businesses cannot be sued in U.S. courts by foreign victims of human rights abuses and extremist attacks.

The Arab Bank is one of the largest banking institutions in the Arab world and operates some 600 branches internationally, in addition to subsidiaries. The lawsuit claims that the bank, its employees and its managers played an integral role in the system that supported terrorist activity and even knowingly—if indirectly—provided assistance by funding actions carried out by Palestinian terrorists and terrorist organizations.

According to the plaintiffs—1,132 Israeli citizens who were wounded in terrorist attacks or who lost family members to terrorist actions committed within the Green Line as well as in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip from 1995-2005—the bank was involved in funding terrorist attacks carried out in Israel by Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terrorist groups during those years. These attacks claimed the lives of hundreds of Israelis, and wounded thousands.

Specific attacks cited include but are not limited to the 1996 suicide bombing at Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center, in which 13 people were murdered; the 2001 suicide bombing at the Dolphinarium nightclub in Tel Aviv in 2001, which killed 21 and wounded over 120; the 2001 suicide bombing at the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, which claimed the lives of 15 and left over 100 wounded; and 2002 suicide bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya on the eve of Passover, in which 30 people were killed and 160 wounded.

The bank is accused of playing a significant role in collecting donations to support the families of suicide bombers, wounded terrorists and Palestinians serving sentences in Israeli prisons for terrorist activity. The bank even disbursed the money in violation of accepted banking practices, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit also claims that the bank was more directly involved in supporting terrorism, and that at the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, bank chairman Abd al-Majid Shuman established the Fund to Support the Palestinian People’s Resistance, which was designed to support the intifada. Shuman promised to donate $500,000 of his own money to the fund, and the bank committed to an additional donation of $2 million.

The lawsuit is being filed by attorneys Gilad Markman and Benjamin Perlman, as well as attorneys Gil Maman and Gavriel Mairone, whose firm specializes in pursuing legal action against terrorist funding, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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