A masked Hamas man holds a gun 370 (R).
(photo credit:Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)
NEW YORK - A US man can proceed with a lawsuit seeking to hold Arab Bank liable for providing material support to Palestinian group Hamas, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.
US District Judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn, New York, denied Jordan-based Arab Bank's motion to dismiss the entire 2011 lawsuit filed by Mati Gill, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel who was wounded in 2008 by gunshots fired from Gaza into Israel.
According to the ruling, a speaker purporting to represent Hamas claimed credit for the shooting that injured Gill. Gill is seeking monetary damages from Arab Bank under the US Anti-Terrorism Act, charging that the bank violated the law by providing financial support to Hamas.
Hamas, along with its leaders and affiliates, is designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.
Arab Bank denied the claims, saying Gill was caught in the crossfire between two military forces and that he had failed to show Arab Bank's liability for the shooting.
Weinstein dismissed one of Gill's claims, which sought to hold Arab Bank responsible for aiding and abetting Hamas's shooting, finding that the act did not provide for secondary liability.
He said that Arab Bank could be held liable for Gill's remaining claims, which include allegations that the bank conspired with Hamas to commit acts of violence and provided material support to the group.
The case will now proceed with Arab Bank's motion for summary judgment, which is due in the coming weeks. If the case survives that hurdle, it will go to trial on November 19.
In his ruling, Weinstein laid out a number of factors that Gill will have to establish to advance his case. They include proving the bank acted with knowledge that funds it made available to Hamas's political branch had made their way to its military operations; that Hamas used the money to fund the attack; that the bank had been aware that the funds could be used to harm US citizens.
An attorney for Gill, Gary Osen, said he was heartened by Weinstein's ruling, which brings the case one step closer to trial.
"If we get through the next few hurdles that have been laid out on the schedule, the judge has indicated that he recognizes the public policy importance and significance of this case," Osen said.
Arab Bank said in a statement the ruling "clearly outlined the proof that will be required for the plaintiff to survive a summary judgment motion, which the bank plans to file next month."
The case is one of several filed in federal court in Brooklyn against banks on behalf of US citizens who were harmed or killed in attacks by Hamas-affiliated groups. It could be among the first of those to go to trial.
The case is Gill v. Arab Bank, US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, No. 11-3706.
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