$1.2 billion lawsuit against al Jazeera

Israelis fight terror through US court system

In July 2006, a Katyusha rocket landed near Haim Kaplan’s home in Safed. Since then he has been part of a legal campaign that has already recovered more than $70 million from banks and countries suspected of aiding terror organizations. Now his group is targeting al-Jazeera over its coverage of Second Lebanon War. ‘This isn’t about money,’ he says. ‘I want to make the world a better place’

Yigal Sarna

Seven of the plaintiffs listed in the $1.2 billion lawsuit filed against al-Jazeera in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan are Haim Kaplan, his wife Rivkah and their five children, who are all minors.

The plaintiffs, whose family members were killed or who were themselves injured by rockets fired at Israel by Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, allege that al-Jazeera intentionally provided real-time coverage of the locations of missile strikes inside Israel in violation of Israeli security regulations, thereby enabling the Shiite group to aim its missiles more accurately.

“I’m one of 90 plaintiffs,” says the lively 36-year-old Kaplan, who is a member of Chabad.

Kaplan’s attorney, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, considers the lawsuit part of the global war on terror, while Kaplan views it as a “good deed” on his part.

The lawsuit is one of five filed by the group, which has managed to recover more than $70 million from banks and other bodies suspected of aiding terror..

“Between July 12 and August 14 Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets at civilians in northern Israel – they particularly targeted civilian facilities,” he says.

According to the lawsuit, Hezbollah’s rockets killed 43 Israelis.

Attorney Darshan-Leitner, who founded Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv, says the organization has been tracking the money trails of groups and countries such as Iran, Syria and North Korea.

“The Twin Towers attack encouraged attorneys to go after terrorists and their funding sources,” she says.

Who are you currently representing in lawsuits filed with courts in the US?

“The family of the IDF reservists who were lynched in Ramallah, the family of the restaurateurs from Shenkin Street who were murdered in Tulkarem, relatives of the seven people who were killed in the terror attack in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood, the 86 victims of rocket attacks on Sderot and many others. In the Sderot case, the lawsuit is against Egypt and the Bank of China in the US, where a Hamas member who transfers money to his brother in Gaza has an account.

“In the past we have sued Swiss bank UBS for transferring cash to Iran in violation of American law. We also sued North Korea, which dug tunnels used to transport missiles.”

Darshan-Leitner says her organization is assisted by American and Israeli intelligence agencies, but laughs when asked whether Shurat HaDin is an offshoot of the CIA. “No. And we are not an extension of the Mossad either. But intelligence agencies realized they can make use of civilians in the fight against terror. We get satisfaction from seeing the terror victims get justice. We hit terror through the court system,” she says.

What about the victims on the other side? The residents of Beirut can sue in New York and demands compensation for the loss of life or property in a bombing.

“No. Israel has immunity in New York. The residents of Beirut can turn to the High Court of Justice in Israel. We represent many Palestinians who sue the State of Israel.”

Really?

“Only collaborators.”

Kaplan, who is listed as a signatory in five different lawsuits, recalls how after his house was nearly hit he immediately drove to the local property tax office to pick up appraisal forms. The office sustained a direct hit, and on the way home a rocket landed near his car. Kaplan, who suffered shrapnel wounds all over his body, was driven by a family to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, where shards of glass were removed from his skin and eyes.

“The appraiser did not believe I got out of that car alive,” he says.

So how is it that a Shaliach Mitzvah (emissary dispatched to do a mitzvah) files a lawsuit against al-Jazeera?

“We all want to make the world a better place, so Shurat HaDin found a group of victims I belong to.”

Do you watch al-Jazeera?

“I don’t watch television at all.”

Do you know how much money you’ll receive if the lawsuit is successful?

“I am not doing this for money. This is about fighting terrorism. But every major lawsuit brings me many new friends,” Kaplan says in jest. “Any money I receive will go to my community.”

A day after the rocket attack near his home, Kaplan sent his family to Jerusalem. “It was a catastrophe here (in Safed). The municipality did not function, and some people fled. It was chaotic.

“That war has not ended. (South Lebanon) is filled with Hezbollah gunmen – and rockets and tunnels,” he says, “But still, we are closer to salvation than ever before.”

July 19, 2010 | 3 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. Charles Martel says:
    July 19, 2010 at 5:44 pm
    I met Nitsana Darshan-Leitner in London in 2005

    If past veracity is prologue, he met Brigette Gabriel. In Ankara. In 1973.

  2. Modern warfare has been fought in the courts for some time now but only one side has truly realized it and taken advantage. For the longest time now, leftists have used litigation to either shut down their enemies by ‘legal’ device, or bankrupt them by forcing them to defend countless charges. I hate the trend toward a litigious modern society, but at the same time, can’t help but feel some justice when it’s done justly. Islamo-fascists, leftists, mainstream media, they deserve to be driven to absolute poverty just for starters.

  3. I met Nitsana Darshan-Leitner in London in 2005; she is a dynamo and doing fantastic work. One of these days, I hope an explicit connection will be made between a terror attack and false or inflammatory stories published by Reuters or one of the other agencies — something along the lines of what occurred with al-Dura. When that occurs, the publisher will be vulnerable to a lawsuit by the victim(s) and families for billions of dollars. Making an example of one will chill the entire anti-Israel media machine.