U.S. Court Gives Go-ahead for Citizens to Sue Palestinian Authority Over Terror Attacks

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The aftermath of the Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing in Jerusalem during the second intifada, in August 2001.Credit: Eyal Warshavsky

A United States court has given the go-ahead to the families of 11 American terror victims to sue the Palestinian Authority for the deaths of their relatives, according to a press release on behalf of the plaintiffs.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed eight out of nine summary judgment motions presented by the defense for the dismissal of all counts of the first amendment complaint.

The case was initiated on behalf of the families by Shurat HaDin–Israel Law Center, an Israeli NGO dedicated to fighting "terrorism through the use of civil suits and other legal means." Shurat HaDin founder Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and attorney Kent Yalowitz represented the plaintiffs before the court.

All the deaths occurred in Israel during the Second Intifada (2001 – 2004.) The plaintiffs maintain that PA and Palestinian Liberation Organization personnel were involved in the attacks, making the organizations themselves liable.

Shurat HaDin announced after the ruling that the trial will go ahead in the Southern District Court in Manhattan in January 2015.

The families originally filed suit in 2004 under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, which permits citizens injured in terrorist attacks outside of the United States to bring lawsuits in the American federal courts. They are seeking $1 billion in damages.

Reacting to the Court's decision, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said: "For years the PA provided funding and every measure of support for the murderous terrorist operations in Israel that devastated the country and left so many civilians dead."

The Palestinian Authority did not comment on the court's ruling.

Shurat HaDin has previously won courtroom victories against Iran, Syria and others for supporting Palestinian militants that killed civilians in bombings and other attacks.

But in July this year, an Australian judge dismissed a case waged by the NGO against a Sydney academic who it maintained was in breach of the country's anti-racism laws.

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