On the eve of the Palestinian elections, as Hamas is poised to gain power and legitimacy, a Jerusalem court recently reminded us that Hamas is much more than just a political party. In a Jerusalem District Court decision announced this week, Israeli judge Aharon Farkash held Hamas liable for 100 million shekels (approximately $22 million) for a 2002 terrorist attack that killed four Israelis. On March 28, 2002 at 8:30 p.m. during the Passover holiday, Hamas gunman, Ahmed Hafez Abed Al-Jawad, entered the home of the Gavish family and killed four family members: Rachel and David Gavish, their son Abraham, 25, and Rachel's father Yitzhak Kaner, 74. Jawad is memorialized on the website of the Ezzedine al-Qassam brigades, Hamas's military wing.
Last year, the family of an American victim of a Hamas attack successfully sued a Hamas operative and several front groups in the United States. The parents of David Boim won a $156 million civil judgment against Muhammad Salah, the Holy Land Foundation, the Islamic Association for Palestine, the Quranic Literacy Institute and the American Muslim Society, dealing a blow to Hamas fundraising activities in the United States.
As part of its electioneering efforts, Hamas has hired an image consultant to help reinvent itself as a moderate political organization. According to recent polls Hamas is expected to make a strong showing in tomorrow's elections. Israel and the United States have made it clear that they will not work with a government comprised of members of a terrorist organization, and the U.S. government has transferred two million dollars to the Palestinian Authority, through USAID, for the election campaign. Similarly, the Palestinian Authority has also exerted extra efforts to guarantee that Fatah comes out on top, by distributing a letter to all Palestinian Authority security forces urging them to vote for Fatah.
Cross-posted at Counterterrorism Blog.
Since any legitimacy gained as a result of its electoral success is unlikely to lessen or vitiate Hamas� militancy, private lawsuits initiated by victims of Hamas terrorism, such as the Gavish and Boim families, will continue to be an important tool in combating terrorist groups.