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Legal Victory: Sderot Victims Can Sue Bank of China

New York Supreme Court rules that Israeli victims of rocket attacks may sue the Bank of China for sending cash to terrorists.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 7/15/2011, 10:02 AM / Last Update: 7/15/2011, 12:08 PM

Flash 90

The New York Supreme Court has issued a landmark ruling stating that Israeli victims of terrorist  attacks from Gaza may proceed with a lawsuit against the Bank of China (BOC), which transferred cash to Gaza terrorist groups. The ruling was a victory for the Israel Law Center and its clients, victims of terrorism and their families.

Prosecutors say the BOC allowed Gaza terrorists to conduct wire transfers of several million dollars, beginning in 2003. The dollar transfers began with terrorist leaders in Iran and Syria, were processed by BOC branches in the United States. From there they were sent to accounts in Beijing, and from there funds were transferred to Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

The money was then used to fund terrorist attacks. Among those attacks were a suicide bombing in Eilat in 2007 that murdered three people and rocket attacks on the city of Sderot, in which several were murdered and many others left with life-long wounds.

Cash transfers continued despite requests from Israeli counter-terrorism officials, who demanded in early 2005 that China take action to stop the BOC from sending cash to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The transfers continued until 2007.

More than 80 victims of attacks and their families are seeking both compensation and punitive damages. Their case was put forth by the Israel Law Center's Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, working alongside New York attorney Robert Tolchin.

The BOC had argued that the case was frivolous and that the BOC was not responsible for Hamas' actions. The defense later argued that if the case was allowed to go ahead, it should continue in China under Chinese law.

The court not only allowed the case to proceed, but said it can continue in New York. The BOC's decision not to seek a move to Chinese courts in a second case indicates that the bank will not find it unduly hard to continue with the trial in the United States, justices said.

A preliminary conference prior to the discovery stage of the trial was set for September 14.