The United States district court for Washington D.C. has handed down a decision today in the amount of $332 million against the government of Syria for its role in an April 2006 terrorist attack perpetrated in Israel. The suicide bombing killed 11 civilians and injured scores of others. One of those murdered in the bombing was Daniel Wultz, an American student from Florida. His family brought the lawsuit against the Syrian Arab Republic and other parties alleging that Damascus had allowed the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which carried out the attack, to be headquartered in the Syria and provided other material support to the terrorist group. The civil action demanded compensation and punitive damages against the Syrian government as well as numerous Syrian military and intelligence officials.
For several months prior to April 17, 2006, the PIJ planned and made preparations to murder and injure Jewish civilians by carrying out a suicide bombing in a crowded public location in Israel. On April 17, 2006, a Palestinian operative of the PIJ, Sami Salim Mohammed Hammed (“Hammed”) arrived at the Rosh Ha’ir restaurant near the Old Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, which was packed with diners, in order to carry out the suicide bombing. The terrorist was carrying a powerful explosive device covered with nails and other metallic projectiles. Among the wounded were sixteen year old Daniel Wultz and his father, Yekutiel (Tuly”) Wultz, who were visiting Israel for the Passover holiday. Daniel Wultz was critically injured in the bombing, and underwent multiple surgeries and other procedures to save his life. Daniel heroically fought for his life for the next 27 days in the hospital, underwent numerous surgeries and medical procedures but succumbed to his injuries on May 14, 2006.
The family was represented by New York attorney Robert Tolchin and Tel Aviv attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
On August 22, 2008, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against the Syrian Arab Republic and Islamic Republic of Iran pursuant to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act’s terrorism exception, 28 U.S.C. § 1605A in the US district court in Washington D.C. On February 27th and 29th, 2012 the Wultzes presented their evidence before Judge Royce Lamberth. Called to give testimony concerning Syria’s support for the terrorist PIJ were several terrorism experts, including a former senior officer in Israeli military intelligence. On May 14, 2012, the 6th year anniversary of Daniel Wultz’ death the district court handed down its decision awarding the Wultzes $332 million in compensatory and punitive damages against the Syrian defendants for their liability in the murder of Daniel Wultz.
In its decision the court wrote: “The nature of the defendants’ acts and the nature and extent of the harm defendants intentionally caused are among the most heinous the Court can fathom . . . The evidence shows that the defendants lacked any semblance of remorse for this deadly attack – and in fact, encouraged and supported this and similar attacks.”
According to attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Israel Law Center – Shurat HaDin: “For the first time the government of Syria has been found liable by a federal court in the United States for its decades long support of the Islamic terrorist organizations that target innocent civilians in Israel with suicide bombings. The Palestine Islamic Jihad was headquartered in Damascus and Syrian officials provided it other material support and funding to facilitate the murderous attacks. This court decisions shows that even outlaw regimes like the one in Damascus can have the rule of law imposed upon them.”
A parallel lawsuit has been filed in New York against the Bank of China for providing financial services to the PIJ prior to the 2006 bombing.
A copy of the court decision is available here:
May 2012 Decision Against Syria