Commentary Magazine


New Front Against Terror: Bank of China Sued by Israeli Victims

Fresh off their triumph in tying the latest Gaza flotilla up in Greek legal knots, the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center won another victory–this time in the New York courts. On Friday, the Law Center, representing victims and family members of those killed and injured by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror attacks on southern Israel in 2006 and 2007, learned that their lawsuit against the Bank of China may proceed. The Bank of China is accused of aiding and abetting those attacks because they provided wire transfer services to both terrorist groups. These transactions allowed the terror groups to be financed and to carry on its murderous activities. United States law bans normal banking activities such as transfers when they are used to conduct terrorism.

The bank’s defense is that Hamas is not considered a terrorist group in China. Whether a New York court will decide this means the financial institution had no illegal intent remains to be seen. But the arguments by the plaintiffs that the bank knew exactly whom they were dealing with and what their client used their funds to do are compelling. The Israeli government informed the bank in 2003 that the account, which had been opened in Guangzhou, China, was being used to fund terrorism, but their warning was ignored. The bank carried out dozens of transactions from overseas sources totaling several million dollars to accounts in Gaza and the West Bank controlled by Hamas and Islamic Jihad during the period under scrutiny.

While groups like al Qaeda have been successfully starved of cash by strict sanctions that prevent banks from allowing them to move money around, Palestinian terror groups have benefitted from the fact that many third world nations have given them free reign to conduct their nefarious business. But in an age where all financial institutions are linked, tough legal action can act to prevent the Gaza-based killers of Hamas from gaining access to cash raised elsewhere.

Once again, Shurat HaDin deserves credit for successfully pursuing a new front against the Palestinian terror network. Hopefully, this victory in court will be followed by others that will serve to dry up the sources of funding for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

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