The Jerusalem District Court ruled Monday that the Gaza Strip-based terrorist group Hamas must pay NIS 38 million ($11.8 million) to the families of three teenagers kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank in June 2014.
The court ordered the Islamist organization, and Hussam Qawasmeh — a Palestinian from the West Bank city of Hebron, convicted of orchestrating the attack — to compensate the families of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Fraenkel.
The three teenagers were abducted and killed while hitchhiking in the West Bank in an attacked that s
The families of the victims originally sought NIS 520 million ($162 million) in compensation, citing tremendous damage done to them during the two and a half week-long searches after their loved ones.
The families won the case by default in the absence of defense from the Hamas defendants, noting that the amount of punitive damages is based on a past Supreme Court ruling that significantly reduced the amounts of damages in terrorist claims.
Representatives of the slain teenagers' families expressed dissatisfaction with the ruling and claimed it will not deter future terrorists from carrying out similar acts.
"The ruling is not sufficient, because the State of Israel must crack down on terrorism against as hard as possible," said Eyal Yifrach's father, Uri.
"This is a sum that won't deter Hamas and similar groups who continue their activities at all times. Our goal is to undermine the economic and legal tools of the terrorist organizations, to teach them a lesson and, God willing, to prevent the next incidence."
"An organization that is based on a billion-dollar budget will not be deterred by any $10 million lawsuit. The purpose of the lawsuits is to bring down terrorism, and this cannot be done with such sums that are insignificant to them," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a human rights activist and the founder of Israeli lawfare organization Shurat HaDin who represents the families.
"It is unthinkable for an Israeli court to would show such clemency toward the terrorist organization that financed, planned and carried out the horrific attack that the entire nation still carries in its heart."
The families of the victims said they will appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court in a bid to stop the flow of funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) to Hamas.
The lawsuit indicated that Israel could deduct the compensation from garnished tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the PA.
Israel has reportedly withheld north of NIS 600 million in Palestinian taxes in a bid to disincentivize the PA from paying stipends to Palestinians hurt or killed in clashes with Israeli forces, including avowed terrorists and their families.
Israel has in the past deducted sums from the tax money it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.