Court Orders Palestinian Authority, Terrorists to Pay $17 Million for Deadly 2001 Attack

Jerusalem judge says Palestinian Authority must pay 40 percent of damages to families of three Israeli victims of shooting ambush on road near Jerusalem during second intifada

Marwan Barghouti during a Jerusalem court hearing in January 2012.
Senior Fata leader Marwan Barghouti during a Jerusalem court hearing in January 2012. Bernat Armangue / AP

The Palestinian Authority and the terrorists who carried out a deadly attack on an Israeli highway in 2001 must pay 62 million shekels ($17.6 million) in damages to the families of the victims, an Israeli court ruled on Sunday.

Three Israelis were killed and two young children wounded in the August 2001 attack, which occurred on Route 443 between Jerusalem and Modi’in.

Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Yair Drori ruled in October 2014 that the PA was civilly liable for the attack, and on Sunday he handed down his ruling on the amount of damages to be awarded. Drori ordered the PA to pay 40 percent of the total sum, with the rest to be paid by the terrorists themselves.

One of the terrorists convicted of the three murders was Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving five life terms in an Israeli prison for these and two other murders, along with other crimes.

On August 25, 2001, at the height of the second intifada, Palestinian terrorists ambushed a car carrying members of an Israeli family, spraying bullets into the vehicle. Sharon and Yaniv Ben-Shalom, ages 26 and 27, respectively, died in the attack. Sharon’s brother, Doron Sueri, 20, died of his wounds the following day.

The Ben-Shaloms’ two infant daughters were wounded in the attack; their mother died while shielding them with her own body. The girls were subsequently raised by their aunt. The families of the victims sued the PA and PLO in 2009.

Drori ruled in 2014 that the PA was responsible for the attack because it gave the perpetrators money and weapons that were used to carry out the attack. He said the PA had 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 parents of Sharon Ben-Shalom and Doron Sueri pictured in May 2004 at a support group for bereaved parents.
Moti Kimche

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

Barghouti, who has been in jail since 2002, 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.

However, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ allegations of incitement to violence, saying they had not proved that media outlets in the PA encouraged violence or approved of terror activities.