In precedent, lawsuit also targets 3 Gazan money changers who helped fund terror and have US assets frozen by authorities, meaning any ruling on damages can potentially be enforced
The families of five terror victims will file a lawsuit against Gaza’s Hamas rulers and three money changers with US assets who allegedly helped fund attacks against Israelis, demanding compensation totaling half a billion shekels ($144 million), a report said Friday.
The inclusion of the Gaza-based money changers in the lawsuit — set to be filed Sunday at the Jerusalem District Court — is a precedent, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily said. The trio — named as Mohammed Alai, Fawaz Nasser and Kamel Awwad — are accused of working for Hamas and funneling money to it from Iran via a holdings company called Beit al-Mal.
While normally, the chances of compensation actually being paid in similar cases is small, this case could be different since the money changers have bank accounts and other assets in the United States, which have been frozen by authorities under sanctions announced by the Treasury Department. A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs could thus be at least partially enforced due to bilateral agreements between Jerusalem and Washington.
The plaintiffs are the families of Shir Hajaj and Erez Orbach, two of four IDF officers killed when a terrorist from East Jerusalem rammed his truck into a group of soldiers at the Armon Hanatziv promenade in the capital in January 2017; Rabbi Nehemia Lavi, killed in October 2015 in a stabbing terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City; Elhai Taharlev, a soldier killed in a West Bank car-ramming attack in April 2017; and Amiad Ish-Ran, a newborn baby who was delivered prematurely after his mother was seriously injured in a West Bank shooting attack in December 2018 and who died after several days.
A composite photo of the four Israeli soldiers killed when a terrorist rammed his truck into a group of cadets on January 8, 2017 in Jerusalem. Clockwise from left, IDF Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel, IDF Cadet Shir Hajaj, IDF Cadet Erez Orbach, IDF Cadet Shira Tzur. (Handout photos from IDF spokesperson)
In all cases, the lawsuit claims, the perpetrators were linked to Hamas, the terror group that runs the Gaza Strip since taking over in a bloody coup in 2007, and which openly seeks Israel’s destruction and gets funding from Iran.
“As a society and as a nation, we must fight the terrorists and those who help them with all means,” said Rabbi Raphael Ish-Ran, Amiad’s grandfather. “The despicable terrorists should know we will hurt them in any way possible, including financially. Money enables terror attacks and therefore we also want to make sure those who made funding possible are financially hurt.”
“Hamas are terrorists, each and every one of them,” said Herzl Hajaj, Shir’s father. “The financial battle against them is necessary. Hamas is running an entire financial industry from killing Jews.”
Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has spent the past decade filing lawsuits for the victims of terror attacks against the governments, banks and corporations that enabled or financed the violence. (Courtesy)
“It is a never-ending battle, but the only way to weaken the terror groups is to hit at their funding channels,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the plaintiffs’ lawyer and the chairwoman of Shurat HaDin, a legal aid group that is behind the lawsuit and has previously filed many other similar lawsuits.
“The money is what lets Hamas rule Gaza’s population, produce rockets and mortars, and hold an army of murderers ready for action. If we sever them from their money and its funding mechanisms, we can harm and cause their collapse,” she added.