Next Monday, attorneys representing 297 US citizens whose loved ones have been killed or injured by Hamas terrorists will file a lawsuit against the Arab Bank, the largest bank in the Middle East, over its role in bankrolling Hamas terrorists. The Arab Bank in Ramallah, in particular, has been involved in paying Palestinian Authority and “charity” stipends to terrorists, and since it operates in the United States, it is responsible for the terror activities by Hamas and can be forced to compensate victims.
The lawsuit concerns terror attacks carried out by Hamas terrorists between March 2001 and September 2004, during the second intifada. Among the attacks that took place during that time was the bombing of the Dolphinarium nightclub in Tel Aviv, terror attacks at Hebrew University, and the infamous bombing of the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001. Hamas claimed responsibility for most of the attacks.
The plaintiffs are being represented by Hackensack, NJ attorney Gary Osen. Speaking to the New Jersey Jewish News, Osen said that the Arab Bank “was a key channel to provide a form of indemnification to Palestinian terrorists and would-be terrorists who would be incentivized by knowing that their families would be financially cared for if they were killed, injured, or imprisoned as a result of their violent activities.”
In a message to the newspaper, the Arab Bank denied liability. “Arab Bank has great sympathy for all victims of terrorism but is not liable for the tragic acts described by Plaintiffs,” the bank said in a statement.” The lawsuit, it said, “would undermine the automated compliance systems that regulators around the world require banks to employ, and create vast uncertainty and risk in the international finance system.”
Not quite, said Osen. “There are only a limited number of financial institutions that operate in the Palestinian territories,” he said. “It’s one thing to move a million dollars through a courier through a tunnel. The kind of money needed to run a proto-government can only be done through formal banking channels.”
Last year, the Jordan-based Arab Bank lost its bid to avoid a US trial over lawsuits brought by Israeli and American terror victims who accuse the bank of financially supporting terror. The bank operates in many countries, managing business ties with various corporations and governments.
However the US Supreme Court in August threw aside the claims of more than 6,000 Israelis in the case, making up more than 90% of the lawsuits, saying that foreign complainants can not sue the Arab Bank in the US.