Arab Bank Wins Dismissal of Israel Terrorism Attack Suit

Arab Bank Plc won dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit filed by a former Israeli government official over an injury he suffered in a gunfire attack he claims was linked to the Palestinian group Hamas.

U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein in Brooklyn, New York, ruled today that the plaintiff didn’t show enough evidence that Jordan’s largest bank played a role in the 2008 attack to send the case to trial.

Mati Gill, a former aide to Israel’s minister of public security, sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act over the bank’s alleged support of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and has been designated a terrorist group by the U.S. government.

“Plaintiff must establish by a preponderance of evidence that the bank recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally, and proximately caused plaintiff’s injuries, either by the bank’s own actions or in a conspiracy with Hamas or other terrorist organizations,” Weinstein wrote in an order. “It cannot do so.”

The case had been set for trial Nov. 19. In September, the judge threw out one claim in the lawsuit alleging the bank aided and abetted the attack.

Suicide Bombers

Separately, families of dozens of victims of other attacks in Israel are also pursuing cases against the bank in Brooklyn federal court, claiming it helped support Palestinian suicide bombers. U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon has not yet determined whether any of those cases will go to trial.

“This is the first Arab Bank case where the court has evaluated the entire record, and it dismissed the case concluding that the bank was not responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries,” a spokesman for the Amman, Jordan-based bank, Bob Chlopak, said in an e-mailed statement.

A lawyer for Gill, Gary Osen, said the bank wrongfully refused to turn over records of financial transactions from the time period when the attack occurred.

“In effect, today’s decision rewards the bank for its refusal to abide by standing orders of the court,” Osen said in an e-mailed statement. Gill will appeal the ruling, he said.

Gill, a U.S. citizen, was wounded in 2008 by a shot fired from Gaza, a territory bordering Israel. Under U.S. law, it is illegal to provide material support or resources to terrorists. U.S. citizens who are victims of terrorist acts are also permitted to seek civil damages under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

In 2005, the New York branch of Arab Bank agreed to pay a $24 million civil penalty to settle U.S. allegations that it failed to identify and report suspicious transactions involving possible support of terrorism, according to court papers. The bank neither admitted nor denied those claims, according to the papers.

The case is Gill v. Arab Bank Plc, 1:11-cv-03706, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

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