Israeli Court: PA Must Compensate Victims of Terror Attack

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Marwan Barghouti being led into court, January 25, 2012.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

The Jerusalem District Court has ruled that the Palestinian Authority is civilly liable for a 2001 shooting attack in Israel and must pay damages to the families of the three Israelis who were killed in the incident. The level of compensation will be determined in a separate procedure.

On August 25, 2001, Palestinian gunmen ambushed a car carrying members of an Israeli family on Route 443, the Jerusalem-Modi’in road, and riddled it with bullets. Sharon and Yaniv Ben-Shalom, aged 26 and 27, respectively, died in the attack. Sharon’s brother Doron Yosef Svari, 20, died of his injuries the next day. The Ben-Shaloms’ two young daughters were wounded in the shooting; their mother Sharon Ben-Shalom died while shielding them with her own body.

Deputy Court President Judge Moshe Drori said in his ruling that the PA was responsible for the attack because it had gave the perpetrators money and weapons that were used to carry it out. He said the PA has a duty of care regarding those who are liable to be harmed by weapons that are transferred or funded by it, and it must pay compensation to those who were harmed when this duty of care was violated.

The families of the victims sued the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2009. The court ruled on the case, which involved the testimony of several expert witnesses, two weeks ago.

In its decision, the court said evidence entered by the plaintiffs proved that Marwan Barghouti, a senior leader in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement who was named as a defendant in the suit, knew about the attack and was briefed about it afterward.

Barghouti, who has been incarcerated in Israel since 2004, did not appear in court to counter the accusations, a fact Drori cited in his decision to reject the PA’s claim that it was not responsible.

The court rejected, however, the plaintiffs’ allegations of incitement to violence, saying they did not prove that media outlets in the PA encouraged violence or approved of terror activities.

Damages rulings against the PA in Israeli courts are not rare, but in previous instances the PA, represented by attorney Yossi Arnon of Jerusalem, reached out-of-court settlements with the plaintiffs and the lawsuits received little publicity.

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