The Jerusalem District Court ruled on Monday that the Palestinian Authority must pay NIS 13 million in compensation to the family of Tzipi and Gadi Shemesh, who were killed in a suicide bombing in the capital in 2002.
The ruling came after a precedence was set two years ago holding the PA directly responsible for the act of terror that killed the the couple and their unborn twins.
The attack took place in March 2002 in central Jerusalem. The couple were walking down Jerusalem’s King George street as suicide bomber Muhammad Hashika activated his explosive belt. The resulting explosion killed Tzipi on the spot and mortally wounded her husband who was taken to the hospital where he died a few hours later.
The attack also killed Yitzhak Cohen, a father of six from the city of Modiin, and wounded 80 others.
"This evening we finally have closure after many years of struggles in court,” said Shahar and Shoval, the slain couple's daughters. “From the first moment what was most important to us is that justice be served.”
“We wanted to say thank you to the judicial system for the ruling and the justice served… Our goal has always been to show that we can stand up to terrorist organizations. To show them we are strong in the face of what has happened to us.”
The verdict comes sixteen years after the family first filed the lawsuit against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. The suit claimed that the perpetrators of the attack were members of a Palestinian terrorist organizations that acted as a result of the PA's policy which allowed the killing of innocent Israeli civilians.
The Palestinian Authority on its part, argued that the family's claims are general and irrelevant, and that the questions they raise are complex historical questions that should not be deliberated in a court of law.
The ruling was based on the opinion of Lt. Col. (Res.) Alon Eviatar, a Palestinian expert and former Arab adviser to the Coordinator of Operations in the Territories.
According to Eviatar, the terrorist who perpetrated the attack, Muhammad Hashika, was arrested by the Palestinian Authority and released specifically to carry out the attack at the request of Abd al-Karim Avis, an officer in the PA's general intelligence apparatus.
Moreover, the materials used to make the explosive device were taken from the office of the PA’s head of General Intelligence Service Tawfiq Tirawi, who paid an aide to drive the terrorist to the scene of the attack.
Fatah official Hussein a-Sheikh, now the minister in charge of relations with Israel, was also found complicit in the attack, after he gave the terrorist and others involved money and hand grenades.
In recent years, several lawsuits were filed by families of terror victims against the PA over attacks carried out during the second intifada.
Three years ago, a district court ruled that the Palestinian Authority must compensate the Ben Shalom family, who lost their parents Sharon and Yaniv Ben Shalom, in a shooting attack on Route 443, for the sum of NIS 62 million. The court determined that the PA failed to stop the attack.
In another case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Palestinian Authority would compensate the family of Amos Mantin, who was killed in a terrorist attack in Baqa al-Gharbiya in 2003. He was shot dead by a boy who was attending a PA sponsored training camp.