A US court has ordered three Islamic charities and an alleged fund-raiser for Palestinian resistance group Hamas to pay $156 million to the parents of an American teenager killed outside a Jewish colony.
A federal jury awarded $52 million in damages on Wednesday to the parents of David Boim, shot down at a bus stop outside a Jewish colony in the West Bank eight years ago.
US Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys then tripled the damages.
But it is uncertain whether the family can collect much money from the defendants, some of whom have had their assets frozen by the government.
Joyce and Stanley Boim, parents of the slain teenager who moved to Israel in 1985, sued under a US law that allows victims of “terrorism” abroad to collect damages in American courts from organisations that furnish money to “terrorist” groups.
Before the trial started, the judge had found the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and alleged Hamas fund-raiser Muhammad Salah liable in Boim’s death.
The jury also found that the Quranic Literacy Institute, a group in suburban Oak Lawn, Illinois that translates Islamic religious texts, was responsible for the shooting.
No Palestinian group has ever claimed responsibility for Boim’s killing.
Boims was gunned down outside the West Bank colony of Beit El where he attended a Jewish seminary.
Colonies, also known as settlements, are illegal under international law and their heavily-armed inhabitants are frequently targeted by Palestinians aiming to drive them off stolen land.
The Boims maintained that the charities funded Hamas and therefore financed the violence that led to the death of their son.
However, the four defendants denied having anything to do with Hamas.
They argued there was nothing to show that money they sent to charitable groups in the West Bank was used for anything related to Boim’s death.
Keys nevertheless ruled that the Boims didn’t need to show that money sent by the defendants directly paid for the shooting.
He said the law required only that the groups realised they were aiding Hamas and understood it engaged in violence.
Hamas is viewed by Palestinians, and millions of Muslims all over the world, as a legitimate resistance organisation fighting Israeli occupation.
Outside of its military and political activities, Hamas is also engaged in providing education and health facilties to the Palestinian people.
‘Travesty of justice’
A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) told Aljazeera.net that the verdict was a travesty of justice.
Yaser Tabbara said the jury only heard one side of the case because the defendants instructed their attorney to remain silent in protest at the judge’s decision not to give them extra time to prepare.
“We feel that the decision is unfortunate but expected. I think this will only serve to discourage American Muslims from giving to charity,” he said.
“Not only did the judge originally find that the charities had funelled money to Hamas but he found that Hamas had actually carried out the killing, which to my knowledge they have never claimed.”
Tabbara also acknowleged the perception among American Muslims that there is redress for Israeli victims of Palestinian “terrorism” but no redress for Palestinian victims of Israeli “terrorism.”
“By the same logic, it should be possible for a Palestinian American to sue a US organisation like the Friends of the Israeli Defence Force for the unlawful killings they perpetrate,” he said.
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