Arab Terrorist Money Frozen - At the Request of Terror-Victim Orphans

A Tel Aviv court ruled yesterday that the 37 million shekels confiscated last week from terrorist organizations' bank accounts must be frozen - possibly to be used to pay a U.S. Federal Court award to Hamas victims.

, | updated: 11:36 AM

The Tel Aviv District Court ruled yesterday that the nearly 37 million shekels confiscated last week from terrorist organizations' accounts in banks in Ramallah must be frozen. Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz announced within hours of the confiscation that the money would be returned to the PA in the form of humanitarian aid. However, attorneys for Dvir and Yeshai Ungar - whose parents were murdered in a Hamas terror attack in June 1996 - requested that the money be set aside for other purposes.

Yehudit Dasberg, together with her husband Rabbi Uri Dasberg, adopted Dvir and Yeshai after the attack that killed Yaron Ungar and his wife Effie, the Dasbergs' daughter. Mrs. Dasberg, speaking with Arutz-7 this morning, explained the significance of yesterday's ruling:
"Four years ago, we sued Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and each murderer individually, in a United States Federal Court. Three years ago, the court in fact ruled in our favor, awarding us a very high sum [$116 million], most of which was punitive. This was, of course, our main goal - not to become rich, but to make it harder for the terrorists to carry out attacks."

The lawsuit claimed that Arafat and the other defendants were liable for the deaths of Yaron Ungar - an American citizen - because they provided Hamas with shelter, safe haven and a base of operations from which to carry out terrorist attacks. The suit was based on a U.S. federal law passed in the early 1990s in response to the legal obstacles encountered by the family of Leon Klinghoffer and other passengers aboard the Achille Lauro, in their civil suits against the PLO for the hijacking of the cruise ship. "The express purpose of the law," explained Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner when she filed the suit for the Ungars, "is to grant U.S. federal courts jurisdiction (which they would otherwise lack) over claims resulting from terrorist attacks against American citizens abroad."

"We knew that we did not have much chances of retrieving the money," Mrs. Dasberg continued, "but the confiscation of the terror monies last week might be able to change this. Our goal is to make sure that this money is not returned to the PA; if it's a choice between humanitarian purposes there and humanitarian purposes here, isn't it obvious which is preferable? Israel and the US have an agreement in this area that when the implementation of a ruling made in the US can be facilitated by monies in Israel, Israel will cooperate. In this case, therefore, it's as if the US is asking Israel to give it the money it just now confiscated from Hamas in order to pay the Ungar family part of what it was awarded." Asked if it wasn't easier for Israel to use the tax and custom monies it collects on behalf of the PA, Mrs. Dasberg said that this is the "next stage" and that the "lawyers are working on it."

Dvir, who was 2 at the time of the attack, and his brother Yeshai, who at 7 months was found unharmed in the car in which his parents were killed, are growing up with the same parents who raised their mother, in Alon Shvut. "Unfortunately," the grandmother-turned-mother continued, "our government has no plan or ambition to punish the terrorists, and in fact various monies keep going towards the terrorists instead of away from them. Therefore, we ourselves will do whatever we can to stop whatever money we can from going their way. I agree, there are ways that are more 'Zionist' to stop terrorism; Ariel Sharon, for instance [as Defense Minister], used to build a new community in Yesha for every terrorist attack; that's how N'vei Daniel and Nokdim were built. But they don't do that anymore, and I certainly can't do it myself...

Mrs. Dasberg explained, "The United States allows for punitive damages, but here in Israel, one can sue only for the direct harm that was caused. There is no such thing as awarding punitive damages, such that whatever small sum we would win would be taken off our National Insurance payments and that would be the end of it. This means that the Israeli government does not punish the PA, and in fact relates to the PA as a retarded child - granting it only privileges, but demanding no obligations and no responsibility for its actions. The Americans have found the way to punish them - money - while our government has not yet understood this, so we'll 'help' them understand this message."