Victory for the Ramallah Lynching Victims Lays the Foundation for a Global Fight Against Hate, Incitement and Anti-Semitism
By Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Shurat HaDin’s unprecedented achievement in the Israeli courts holding the Palestinian Authority responsible for terrorist attacks carried out against Israel and its citizens is not only a historic victory that serves as a monumental memorialization for the victims on the somber 19th anniversary of the 2000 Ramallah Lynching but it also opens a pathway forward, not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the global fight against incitement and anti-Semitism.
Shurat HaDin is at the forefront of this battle, bringing victory and justice in the modern asymmetrical war against terrorism. We have taken the fight for justice against terrorism to the courts and this proven victory marks the next step in quashing the growing trend of anti-Semitism worldwide that has united our enemies across political and territorial lines.
The recent terror attack outside a synagogue in Germany on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, earlier this week that killed two people is a stark reminder of the ongoing battle Jews worldwide face in asserting their identity and legitimacy.
It is up to us as a people, as a Jewish nation, to prevent a return to the Middle Ages, a time when people were murdered for their beliefs on the holiest of days. We are proud of our Jewish identity, we are strong in our abilities, and we are confident that we can win this fight against anti-Semitism and terrorism.
The Lynching in Ramallah
On October 12th, 2000, Yossi Avraham and Vadim Norzitz, two IDF reservist soldiers, had been ordered to report to the Israeli military base in Beit El just outside of the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Ramallah.
The soldiers, unfamiliar with the roads, accidentally missed the Israeli checkpoint and unknowingly found themselves at the Palestinian roadblock inside the city of Ramallah. The soldiers were promptly taken into custody by police officers of the Palestinian Authority and brought to the local police station.
Tensions in the region had been mounting, leading to border clashes in the preceding weeks. This eruption violence would ultimately prove to be the beginning of the bloody Second Intifada which claimed the lives of 1,100 Israeli civilians, 2,000 Palestinians and 64 foreign nationals.
News quickly spread through the Arab community that two Israeli soldiers were being held in the local police station. A mob of over 1000 Palestinians rapidly gathered and stormed the police station where the soldiers were being held.
The soldiers were savagely murdered and thrown from the window of the police station into the frenzied mob below where their bodies were viciously mutilated.
Palestinian police officers tasked with protecting the soldiers were complacent in their brutal murder; allowing the mob entry to the building and permitting them to attack the soldiers. In addition, numerous officers participated directly in the cruel murder and mutilation of the two men.
The entire incident was captured by an Italian media outlet and broadcast worldwide, forever etching the violent attack into the collective memory of the Israeli people and the global Jewish community. A man standing in the window proudly displaying his bloodied hands to the raging crowd in the street below became an infamous symbol of the lynching. The man was later identified as Aziz Salha, a known terrorist who had stabbed, choked and disemboweled the two IDF soldiers.
The lynching in Ramallah prompted Shurat HaDin to file a case against the Palestinian Authority in December 2000. We filed a 64 million NIS suit in the Jerusalem District Court against the PA alleging the organization was responsible for the violent murder of the two soldiers and demanded that they not only be held accountable for their role but also be obliged to pay compensatory damages to the families of the victims.
This move by Shurat HaDin marked the first time the PA had been sued in a court of law to hold them responsible for criminal actions against Israel and its people.
Shurat HaDin’s Legal Victory on behalf of the Victims
When we filed the suit against the PA nearly 19 years ago attempting to hold them liable for their role in the Ramallah lynching, we were determined to secure justice for Yossi Avraham and Vadim Norzitz. Through perseverance and commitment, we have finally realized that goal, but the finish line in the race against anti-Semitism and incitement of hate remains ahead of us.
Earlier this year, in a landmark decision, the Jerusalem District Court found the Palestinian Authority and the PLO responsible for the Ramallah Lynching and 16 additional terrorist attacks against Israelis.
The court ordered the Palestinian Authority to pay compensation for attacks carried out by various terrorist organizations such as Hamas, the PLO and Islamic Jihad that killed 34 Israelis – including the two soldiers lynched in Ramallah – and wounded seven others.
The court’s ruling applied to the consolidation of 17 petitions submitted by Shurat HaDin over the course of nearly twenty years on behalf of survivors and relatives of victims. In total, the claims demanded compensation from the PA valued at about NIS 1 billion. ($260m)
This unprecedented decision marks the first time that a court has found the PA legally culpable for terrorist attacks beyond those carried out by its own employees.
Judge Moshe Drori found the PA liable on the grounds that the organization issued official PA statements inciting, taking credit for and supporting all terrorist attacks during the violent Second Intifada.
In his decision, Drori stated that the PA not only provided financial and practical support to terrorists but bankrolled terrorists and their families, as well as naming streets, squares, schools and sporting events after so-called “martyrs” killed while carrying out attacks.
Unsurprisingly, the PA has refused to comply with the district court’s ruling. Rather than conceding its role, the PA has relinquished financial support from Israel and the United States, preferring to continue its pay-to-slay policies of paying stipends to terrorists and their families, supporting and legitimizing terror against Israel while failing to provide for the future of the Palestinian people.
Shurat HaDin: Fighting the Legal Battle for Israel
Shurat HaDin has pioneered a new and effective weapon in the new war against terrorism, establishing a successful playbook for choking the financial resources of terrorist organizations through our innovative lawfare tactics, which have been replicated by organization and governments worldwide.
We have led a global shift from traditional warfare tactics to legal warfare fought in the courts to bankrupt terrorist organizations, expose state-sanctioned terror, and secure justice and compensation for victims of terror.
Shurat HaDin will continue tirelessly fighting against new and deadly threats to protect the State of Israel and its citizens. In addition to our efforts to fight terrorism funding, Shurat HaDin will defend Israel against war crime allegations, lawfare challenges and anti-Semitic boycotts such as BDS.
Prior to the recent attack Yom Kippur attack in Germany, the assailant published an extensive anti-Semitic manifesto online and he live-streamed the shooting on the popular gaming platform, Twitch – a subsidiary of Amazon. This attack serves as a wake-up call that the battlefield against terrorism is shifting in the digital age, making the courts an invaluable new weapon of warfare against the rising wave of anti-Semitism.
This new digital combat zone has prompted Shurat HaDin to embark on a new campaign to fight Jihad online and on social media. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become communication, networking and marketing tools used by terrorist entities worldwide to spread hateful rhetoric towards the Jewish State, incite violence and carry out their terrorist activities.
At Shurat HaDin, we believe our work is historic and invaluable to Israel and the Jewish people. We don’t just want to make terrorists pay for their attacks against Israelis, we have developed a proven strategy to win against the forces of evil that are attempting to delegitimize the State of Israel.
We are fighting for the rights of Israeli and Jews worldwide in a time of uncertainty when rising extremist right and left-wing factions are uniting against Israel and attempting to invalidate our existence. We have been here before, and Shurat HaDin is determined to continue the fight for justice and truth.