Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the founder of Shurat HaDin (Israeli Law Center), responded with anger and outrage at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision Sunday to acquiesce to international pressure and prevent a key witness from giving testimony in a landmark case against the Bank of China.
Twenty-two families of victims killed in Palestinian Arab suicide bombings accuse the bank of participating in terror activities by handling the bank accounts used to fund the attacks.
"Israel has violated a direct promise that was made to me on behalf of the 22 bereaved families, that the government would give any and all evidence possible proving the Bank of China's role in the attacks," Darshan-Leitner stated. "The fact is that, once again, Israel is abandoning terror victims and their families."
"The first time, they failed to protect them," she continued, referring to Israel's release of convicted terrorists as a precondition of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. "The second time, they surrendered to economic interests over the rights of the bereaved families. We never expected such a response from the Prime Minister, who has been especially vigilant about publicly fighting terrorism."
Darshan-Leitner added, "Israel cannot claim that the testimony of Uzi [Shaya] is a risk to Israel's national security, because all of the information has already been published and has also been used in Israeli courts of law." Uzi Shaya is the key witness in the case; he is a counter-terrorism expert who knew about China's involvement in the attacks and sought to warn Israeli and Chinese officials before more damage could be done.
"Preventing Shaya's testimony gives the Bank of China immunity and absolves them of the responsibilities of financing terrorism," she laments. "This is the hardest message we could have received from the Prime Minister of Israel."