An unprecedented motion to financially liquidate the Hamas terrorist organization was filed this morning in the Jerusalem District Court. The liquidation motion, which was brought by the six surviving children of Rachel and David Gavish z”l, seeks to formally plunge the Islamic terrorist organization into bankruptcy. The Plaintiffs have requested a court order authorizing them to assume control over any and all of Hamas’ assets along with the right to execute against them in order to satisfy a judgment awarded to them early this year.
The liquidation proceeding has been filed on behalf of the six Gavish children by Shurat HaDin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
On February 26, 2006, the Jerusalem District Court handed down a judgment in favor of the Gavish family in the amount of N.I.S. 92 million ($20 million U.S.). The historic judgment marked the first time that Hamas was successfully sued in an Israeli court.
The case arose from the brutal terrorist attack on the Gavish family’s home which left four members of the household, including both parents, dead. On the evening of March 28, 2002, a Hamas gunman, armed with an automatic rifle, infiltrated the Gavish’s house in the community of Alon Moreh and opened fire on its inhabitants. The terrorist immediately killed Rachel and David Gavish, 50, their son Avraham Gavish, 20, and Rachel’s father Yitzhak Kanner, 83 before being killed himself by neighbors. The remaining six children, ages 15 to 22, managed to escape out of a second floor window.
At trial, Darshan-Leitner urged the District Court to find the Hamas organization liable for the four deaths and to award the Gavish family an unprecedented “American-style” judgment amount. The Plaintiffs argued that there was no justification nor mitigating circumstances that could rationalize this heinous terrorist attack and that the Palestinian terrorist group should not be provided any leniency by the court.
District Court Judge Aharon Farkash accepted the arguments and his decision established an important legal precedent — the awarding of punitive damages against terrorist defendants — for other victims seeking justice against Palestinian terrorists in the Israeli courts.
As the District Court wrote concerning its rationale for awarding the Gavish family punitive damages: “With no need to elaborate, I believe, that the current case is appropriate for awarding punitive compensation against the defendant. The sinful act of murder justifies such an award. It is a terrorist action, which was done with intent and full awareness to cause the death of the victims and the damage to their families, since there is no other explanation for this act. Behind the act is a pure hatred that brought about the death of the decedents and a very difficult and traumatic experience upon the plaintiffs – their survivors.”
According to attorney Darshan-Leitner: “Placing Palestinian terrorist groups in bankruptcy will be a powerful new weapon in the effort by terror victims to secure a measure of justice and compensation for the criminal acts committed against them. The liquidation motion seeks to enable the Gavish children to seize any Hamas assets that can be located and utilize them to satisfy the NIS 90 million judgment they were awarded. The court appointed bankruptcy trustee will have tremendous authority to investigate Hamas and root out its assets which was not available to terror victims on their own.”