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A jury found Monday that Palestinian authorities are liable for terrorist attacks that harmed Americans and should pay at least $655 million in damages to victims.
The civil suit brought by 10 U.S. families argued that the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority approved and coordinated six attacks between 2002 and 2004 that killed 33 people and injured over 450.
The jury in Manhattan Federal Court awarded $218.5 million in damages, which is automatically tripled under federal terrorism laws applying to American victims of attacks abroad who prevail in U.S. courts.
The plaintiffs cited internal documents from Palestinian authorities showing that the perpetrators of the attacks had been on official payrolls and communicated with other Palestinian officials.
The suit filed in 2004 had initially sought $350 million — or more than $1 billion after tripling.
Victims hoped the verdict would hit terrorists in their wallet.
“Now, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority know there is a price,” Israel Law Center attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said.
Attorney Kent Yalowitz, who represents the victims, said, “It’s about accountability. It’s about justice.”
Their victory may be mostly symbolic, however, as it’s unclear how the victims would collect the damages.
Palestinian authorities are expected to appeal.
Its lawyers had argued that the attacks that killed 33 people and injured over 450 were the work of militants acting on their own, rather than under the auspices of the government.