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A New York federal appeals court said on Thursday that former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter cannot be sued in the United States for 15 deaths in a Gaza City bombing.

The court said the former security official was immune under common law from being held responsible for the July 2002 bombing of an apartment complex.

Dichter was director of the Shin Bet at the time.

A lower court rejected a 2005 lawsuit. It sought class action status for bombing survivors and victims' families.

The families tried to sue under laws used by Holocaust survivors and relatives of people killed or tortured under despotic regimes.