First, US court finds Syria, Iran, IRGC and banks responsible for Hamas attack

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In a landmark decision, a US federal court ruled on Monday that Syria, Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and three Iranian banks were responsible for the Hamas terror attack that killed Eitam and Naama Henkin in 2015 .

The District of Columbia court ruled on two lawsuits: one filed by Eitam’s parents and siblings and the other by the Henkins children and the Henkins estates. The lawsuits made claims governed by U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, as well as other claims. The Justice for U.S. Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism Act, which amended the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, created a fund to compensate eligible claimants who sponsored states.

In the complaint filed by the children of the Henkins, the plaintiffs claimed that Hamas relied on Iran and Syria for material support, including, but not limited to, training, weapons and funding. The children of Eitam and Naama Henkin filed a wrongful death lawsuit of $ 360 million in civil damages in 2019, shortly after US President Donald Trump named the IRGC as a terrorist group.

The plaintiffs said Iran provides logistical and military support to Hamas through the IRGC’s Quds Force and other entities, and that Tehran channels much of its financial sponsorship of Hamas through Bank Markazi, Bank Melli and Bank Saderat.

The Central Bank of Iran was sanctioned in 2019 for providing billions of dollars to the IRGC, the IRGC’s Quds Force (which backs Hamas) and Hezbollah. Bank Melli has been sanctioned by the United States in the past for providing millions of dollars to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and other groups through the Quds Force. Saderat Bank has also been sanctioned in the past by the United States for being a terrorist financier.

None of the defendants responded to the trial.

The Washington court ruled on Monday that because Iran, Syria, the IRGC and Iranian banks materially support Hamas’s terrorist efforts and have deployed Hamas as agents, they are responsible under US law. for the murder of Eitam, because he was a US citizen, and responsible under Israeli law for the harm suffered by Naama and their children as a result of the murder.

The court will determine the pecuniary damages in a subsequent proceeding, according to a press release from Stein Mitchell Beato & Missner LLP, the law firm that represented the Henkin children. The firm was joined by co-counsel Gavriel Mairone of MM Law, LLC, who represents victims of terrorism and war crimes.

The ruling is the first case in which US courts have found Banks Markazi, Melli or Saderat responsible for a terrorist attack by a foreign terrorist organization against a US national.

“There is no doubt that this horrific and murderous act was sponsored by Syria, Iran and Iranian state sponsored organizations, and yesterday’s court ruling sends a strong and clear message that the financiers of terrorism will be held accountable for their despicable actions, ”said Jonathan Missner, managing partner of Stein Mitchell Beato & Missner LLP, in a statement. “Iranian banks, including Iran’s central bank, Markazi, have never been held accountable, so this is a huge step forward when it comes to holding foreign actors to account for the murder of Americans.

“Funding is the oxygen needed for terrorism,” said Gavriel Mairone of MM ~ LAW LLC. “Bank Markazi serves both as Iran’s central bank and as a central bank for the financing of international terrorism directed against the Americans and our allies. The Treasury Department sanctioned Melli and Saderat as facilitators and financiers of international terrorists such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

On October 1, 2015, Eitam Henkin and his wife Naama were on their way home with their four children near Nablus when three Hamas terrorists passed their vehicle and started shooting at them with automatic weapons, driving the Henkins off the road.

The gunmen, who had originally planned to kidnap the Henkins, then approached the vehicle and encountered Eitam, who began to fight with one of the gunmen. The second gunman saw the fight, shot and killed Eitam, then shot and killed Naama at close range. Their four children, who were also seated in the vehicle, witnessed the gruesome murder of their parents.

The gunmen fled the scene after murdering Eitam and Naama, but were apprehended by the IDF several days later and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.


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