$218.5 million in damages isn’t exactly chump change
Today, a decade long court battled ended when two Palestinian organizations were found liable for knowingly supporting terrorist attacks which resulted in the death of American citizens.
Benjamin Weiser reports for the New York Times:
The Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization were found liable on Monday by a jury in Manhattan for their role in knowingly supporting six terrorist attacks in Israel between 2002 and 2004 in which Americans were killed and injured.
The jury in Federal District Court in Manhattan awarded $218.5 million in damages, a number that is automatically tripled to $655.5 million under the special terrorism law under which the case was brought.
The verdict ended a decade-long legal battle to hold the Palestinian organizations responsible for the terrorist acts. And while the decision was a huge victory for the dozens of plaintiffs, it also could serve to strengthen the Israeli claim that the supposedly more moderate Palestinian forces are directly tied to terrorism.
The financial implications of the verdict for the defendants were not immediately clear. The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, had serious financial troubles even before Israel, as punishment for the Palestinians’ move in December to join the International Criminal Court, began withholding more than $100 million a month in tax revenue it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf.
The verdict came in the seventh week of a civil trial in which the jury had heard emotional testimony from survivors of suicide bombings and other attacks in Jerusalem, in which a total of 33 people were killed and more than 450 were injured.
“Money is oxygen for terrorism,” Kent A. Yalowitz, a lawyer for the families, said in a closing argument on Thursday, noting that the antiterrorism law “hits those who send terrorists where it hurts them most: in the wallet.”
The case was brought under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows American nationals who are victims of international terrorism to sue in the United States courts. The law was used last September by a Brooklyn jury to find Arab Bank liable for supporting terrorism by Hamas. Damages in that case, filed by about 300 victims of 24 terrorist attacks, are to be decided in a second trial, which has not yet been held.
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