Palestinian Authority Liable for Fatal 2002 Suicide Bombing, Jerusalem Court Rules

The PA released a terrorist from prison and assisted him in carrying out the attack, ruling says

File photo: The scene of the 2002 bombing on Jerusalem's King George Street.
Eyal Warshavsky

The Jerusalem District Court ruled Friday that the Palestinian Authority was responsible for a 2002 suicide bombing in the city.

The plaintiffs were relatives of Gad and Tzipi Shemesh, who were killed in the March, 2002 attack on Jerusalem's King George Street. One other person was killed and some 80 were wounded in the bombing. The ruling was first reported in Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday morning.

The ruling mentioned, among other things, that those who ordered the bombing were officers in the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus. It also pointed to an opinion submitted by Lt. Col. (res.) Alon Eviatar – formerly an adviser on Palestinian affairs at the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories – that identified members of the PA as those who initiated terror attacks in that period.

In addition, Judge Irit Cohen based her ruling on the confessions of the attack's planners.  According to the ruling, the suicide bomber was held in a PA prison and released after intervention by PA members who then helped him carry out the attack. The explosives were obtained through the office of Tawfik Tirawi, the then-head of the PA's General Intelligence apparatus, which also funded the operation. Other senior officials in Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, including Hussein al-Sheikh and Marwan Barghouti, knew of the planned attack and helped carry it out.

Attorneys for the PA argued that it had immunity from jurisdiction in the courts of a foreign state and that the Jerusalem court had no authority to judge the matter. The PA also submitted an opinion by Bar-Ilan University Professor Menachem Klein that claimed the second intifada was a popular uprising that was not directed by the PA, and that Palestinian officials were not in control of the many groups that carried out terror attacks.

Nevertheless, the judge ruled that the Palestinian Authority bears responsibility for the 2002 bombing. The amount of reparations for the victims' relatives would be established at a later date, the judge noted.

Several court cases over the past few years have found the PA responsible for terror attacks, ordering it to pay reparations consisting of tens of millions of shekels.