Funerals for Mercaz Harav victims (archive)
Funerals for Mercaz Harav victims (archive)Flash 90

Bereaved Israelis who lost loved ones in a terrorist shooting at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva have hit the Bank of China with a billion-dollar lawsuit. The families, represented by the Israel Law Center (Shurat Hadin), say the bank helped Hamas get the funding that allowed it to keep attacking Israelis.

“The banking giant knowingly assisted the Islamic group to carry out this Jerusalem attack with the full approval of the Chinese government,” attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner charged.

The lawsuit was brought to the New York State Supreme Court on behalf of five families who lost loved ones in the attack. A total of eight young men ages 15-26 were slain in the attack and another eight were wounded. Hamas admitted responsibility for the shooting.

The suit was brought in New York despite the fact that only two of the victims held United States citizenship. “In this suit, we were able to make use of laws allowing non-Americans to also sue in US courts in the case of terrorism,” Darshan-Leitner explained.

The plaintiffs alleged that the Bank of China executed dozens of wire transfers to Hamas beginning in 2003, passing on a total of several million dollars. Transfers continued despite a 2005 meeting between Israeli counterterrorism officers and officials from China’s Central Bank and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security in which the Israelis demanded that the bank’s dealing with Hamas cease.

“Despite these warnings the state-owned bank, with Beijing’s approval, continued to wire funds for terrorism, all while declaring that they did not consider Hamas a terrorist group,” said Darshan-Lietner.

“Banks that supply the lifeblood of terrorism must be shut down and penalized,” she added.

The United States has designated Hamas as “specially designated global terrorists,” meaning the group is subject to strict economic sanctions aimed at preventing banks from doing business with it in order to dry up its financing for attacks.

The Israel Law Center aims to fight terrorism in the courtroom. The group has successfully obtained compensation from terrorist groups for victims and their families and has managed to get hundreds of millions of dollars of terrorist assets frozen.