NEW YORK - Victims of 2006 rocket strikes on Israel cannot sue Al Jazeera on grounds the broadcaster intentionally helped Hezbollah attack civilians by reporting the sites of explosions, a US judge ruled this week.
The Israeli plaintiffs, who were asking for $1.2 billion in damages from Al Jazeera, said the Qatar-based news network helped Hezbollah militants target their rockets more accurately during the 34-day war with Israel.
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Their lawsuit, filed a year ago, argued that a Manhattan court had jurisdiction over the case because US citizens had been harmed.
In her opinion dismissing the suit, Manhattan federal court Judge Kimba
Wood said the victims had failed to show Al Jazeera had the specific
intention of aiding Hezbollah.
"Plaintiffs have offered no facts suggesting that defendant even knew
that it was providing anything to Hezbollah," Wood said, adding the
victims "have offered no facts suggesting that Hezbollah viewed
The plaintiffs in the case -- American, Israeli and Canadian citizens
who were injured or saw family members killed in the attacks -- argued
in court papers that Al Jazeera intentionally helped Hezbollah by
broadcasting in real-time the precise locations and results of their
One of the plaintiffs said in the original complaint that she had a
miscarriage as a result of a rocket explosion near her home. Another
said he "saw his wife torn to pieces."
Their lawyer, Robert Joseph Tolchin, could not be immediately reached for comment. A lawyer for Al Jazeera declined to comment.
The plaintiffs also sought in court papers to establish that Al Jazeera
was liable for "aiding and abetting terrorism" under the Alien Torts
Claims Act. The judge, however, citing an appeals court decision, found
"corporations cannot be held liable for violations of customary
The plaintiffs had sought $1.2 billion from Al Jazeera as well as punitive damages to be determined in court.
The war between Israel and Hezbollah lasted from July 6 to August 14,
2006. The fighting was halted by a United Nations Security Council
resolution after hundreds of people had died.
The case is Kaplan et al v Al Jazeera, US District Court for the
Southern District of New York, No 10-05298.