In a landmark ruling, a US federal court ruled on Monday that Syria, Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and three Iranian banks were liable for the Hamas terror attack which killed Eitam and Naama Henkin in 2015.
The District of Columbia court ruled on two suits: one filed by the parents and siblings of Eitam and one filed by the Henkins’ children and the Henkins’ estates. The suits made claims governed by the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, alongside other claims.
The Justice for United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act, which amended the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, established a fund to provide compensation to eligible claimants who hold judgments against state sponsors of terrorism.
In the suit filed by the Henkins’ children, the plaintiffs claimed that Hamas relies on Iran and Syria for material support, including but not limited to training, weapons and financing. The children of Eitam and Naama Henkin filed the $360 million civil damages wrongful death lawsuit in 2019, shortly after then US president Donald Trump designated the IRGC as a terrorist group.
The plaintiffs said that Iran provides logistical and military support to Hamas through the IRGC’s Quds Force and other entities, and that Tehran funnels 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 Quds Force (which supports Hamas) and Hezbollah. Bank Melli was sanctioned by the US in the past for providing millions of dollars to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and other groups through the Quds Force. Bank Saderat was also sanctioned in the past by the US for being a terrorist financier.
None of the defendants responded to the lawsuit.
The DC court ruled on Monday that because Iran, Syria, the IRGC and the Iranian banks materially support Hamas’s terrorism efforts and deployed Hamas as agents, they are liable under US law for Eitam’s murder, as he was a US citizen, and liable under Israeli law for the harm suffered by Naama and their children from the murder.
The court will determine monetary damages in a later proceeding, according to a press release by Stein Mitchell Beato & Missner LLP, the legal firm which represented the Henkin children. The firm was joined by co-counsel Gavriel Mairone of MM Law, LLC, which represents victims of terrorism and war crimes.
This ruling is the first case in which US courts have found Banks Markazi, Melli or Saderat liable for a terror attack by a foreign terrorist organization against a US national.
“There is no doubt that this horrific, murderous act was sponsored by Syria, Iran, and Iranian state-sponsored organizations, and the court’s ruling yesterday sends a loud and clear message that financiers of terrorism will be held responsible for their despicable actions,” said Jonathan Missner, managing partner of Stein Mitchell Beato & Missner LLP, in a statement. “The Iranian banks, including Iran’s central bank, Markazi, have never before been held accountable so this is a huge step forward when it comes to holding foreign actors to account for the murder of Americans.”
“Financing is the oxygen needed for terrorism,” said Gavriel Mairone of MM~LAW LLC. “Bank Markazi, serves as both the Central Bank of Iran and the Central Bank for financing international terrorism directed against Americans and our allies. The Treasury Dept. has sanctioned Melli and Saderat as facilitators and financiers of international terrorists such as Hamas and Hizballah.”
On October 1, 2015, Eitam Henkin and his wife Naama were driving home with their four children near Nablus when three Hamas terrorists overtook their vehicle and began firing automatic weapons towards them, driving the Henkins off the road.
The gunmen, who originally planned to kidnap the Henkins, then approached the vehicle and encountered Eitam, who began struggling with one of the gunmen. The second gunman saw the struggle, shot and killed Eitam and then shot and killed Naama at point blank range. Their four children, who were sitting in the vehicle as well, witnessed the horrific 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 in prison.
Source » jpost