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Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, received an award Tuesday night for her role in fighting terrorism through international courts and defending the civil rights of Israeli terror victims.
Darshan-Leitner accepted the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism’s Lion of Zion Award at Jerusalem’s City of David, along with Dr. Yitzhak Glick, Chairman of the Efrat Emergency Medical Center, and Zvi Slonim, a founder of Gush Emunim and the Ariel University Center of Samaria.
Shurat HaDin, established in 2003, says its goal is “to bankrupt terror groups and grind their criminal activities to a halt – one lawsuit at a time.” The legal powerhouse works with western intelligence agencies and volunteer attorneys around the world who file legal actions on behalf of victims of terror.
But they just don’t file – they win. To date, Shurat HaDin has succeeded in winning more than $1 billion in judgments, freezing more than $600 million in terrorist assets, and collecting $120 million in payments to victims and their families.
Darshan-Leitner, who has been leading the struggle against Palestinian and Islamic terrorist organizations in the courtroom since 1997, represents hundreds of terror victims in lawsuits and actions not just against terror organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PLO, and Hizbullah, but against governments such as the Iran, Syria, Egypt, North Korea, and the quasi-government Palestinian Authority.
On May 14, the US district court for Washington, DC handed down a decision in the amount of $332 million against the government of Syria for its role in an April 2006 Passover-time suicide bombing which killed 11 civilians near the Old Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, including Floridian student Daniel Wultz, who succumbed to wounds after a 27-day battle for his life. Darshan-Leitner helped his family file suit in US civil court 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 Syria, as well as providing them with material support. The Wultz family was represented by Darshan-Leitner, as well as NY attorney Robert Tolchin.
On May 14, 2012, the 6th anniversary of Daniel’s death, the district court awarded the Wultzes $332 million in compensatory and punitive damages against the Syrian defendants, finding that the defendants acted intentionally in a nature and to an extent “among the most heinous the Court can fathom,” and that they did so without “any semblance of remorse”.
The judgment represented the first time the Syrian government had ever been found liable in US court for supporting Islamic terror organizations targeting civilians in Israel.
Most recently, she has taken on some of the world’s largest banks, who have knowingly done business with organizations associated with Islamic terror, including UBS, The Arab Bank, Bank of China, and LCB.
A lawsuit has been filed in New York against the Bank of China for providing financial services to the PIJ prior to the 2006 bombing which killed Daniel Wultz.
According to Darshan-Leitner, who spoke with the Jewish Press’ Yishai Fleisher, thanks to the efforts of Shurat HaDin, banks have, for the most part, been scared away from dealing with terror organizations and terrorists, for fear of being sued in civil court. This has become significant for Islamic jihadists, who rely on the ability to transfer large amounts of funds in order to maintain their terror networks.
“Terror organizations need a lot of money to operate,” Darshan-Leitner told Fleisher. “We may think they need it for the bullets or for the gun or for the missile, that’s wrong – they need it to support the population, they need to provide the population with free food, free education, free medical services, in order to gain their loyalty, in order to continue firing missiles towards Israel from their backyards.”
“Terror organizations have a military, they have soldiers – not wearing uniforms – but they are soldiers that get paid month after month after month until they are called to carry out terror attacks inside Israel. And to maintain this army, the Hamas or Hizbullah need a lot of money,” Darshan-Leitner said. “So by obstructing them from getting so much money, you are obstructing them from carrying out terror attacks. I regularly meet with intelligence agents in Israel, and they all tell me the same thing – if you stop the money, you can stop the terrorism. If you stop the flow of the money, you can stop the flow of the terrorism.”