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February 17, 2010 – Will the Hezbollah’s Iranian connections be able to bring some compensation for the victims? Eighty-five Israelis who were wounded in the Second Lebanon War submitted a claim in US court for $1 billion against Iran’s central bank and Iranian commercial banks, making it the first suit filed by Israeli terror victims against the Iranian banking system.
In their statement of claim, the victims, who were wounded or their loved ones were killed during the war, claimed that Tehran gave Hezbollah more than $50 million in the years leading up to the armed conflict with Israel with the declared intention of making it possible for them to fire at Israeli and American targets.
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“I am one of the plaintiffs against the Iranian banks. Our objective is to reveal anyone who provides money and funds to terrorism and their methodology,” explained Chaim Kaplan, a resident of Safed who was wounded along with his family members by rocket fire on the city.
“During the first day of the war, a mortar shell landed just a few meters from my house when my wife and five children were at home. They were very frightened. The windows broke, and the house was damaged,” Kaplan said.
A short time later, Kaplan himself was wounded. “Later, I drove to the Tax Authority offices in order to pick up some forms. On the way back home, I again heard incoming rockets when a Katyusha landed a meter (yard) from my car. The car took a huge hit and I was wounded by shrapnel in my entire body. I was taken to the hospital where they took shrapnel out of my eyes and body the whole night,” he added.
Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who submitted the claim to the Washington District Court, made a direct connection between the funds transferred from the Iranian central bank to Hezbollah and the damage caused to the said Israelis.
“The central bank of Iran and the Saderat Bank are the chief monetary pipelines from Iran to Hezbollah. Without these funds, Hezbollah would not have been able to build and maintain its infrastructure, to train the terrorists in its ranks, or carry out massive rocket fire at Israel,” she explained.
Darshan-Leitner added, “These banks act freely and knowingly aid terrorism. They are responsible for the damages incurred on the civilians in these attacks.”
She noted that the claim rests in part on an explicit finding of the US Treasury from 2007 that showed that between 2001 and 2006 the Iranian Bank Saderat transferred funds to Hezbollah in London with the objective of support terrorism.
Israel has accused Iran and Syria for years of actively aiding Hezbollah and Hamas both through funds and ammunitions. Just last December, for instance, a weapons plane was seized on its way from North Korea to Iran carrying ammunition estimated to be bound for these organizations.
According to reports in the Arab media, the cooperation between Hezbollah and Tehran is extensive, and includes coordination on other terrorist activities in the Middle East, such as Yemen.