U.S. human rights group sued for funding Palestinian balloon terror

“This landmark case exposes a shocking and multi-layered planned conspiracy and campaign aimed at manipulating the public,” said Adv. Yifa Segal of the International Legal Forum.

A Palestinian incendiary balloon that landed in a field in Israel (photo credit: ESHKOL REGIONAL COUNCIL)
A Palestinian incendiary balloon that landed in a field in Israel
A newly filed $90 million US lawsuit has charged a Palestinian human rights group with financing hundreds of acts of environmental terrorism along Israel’s southern border with Gaza.
The lawsuit, filed at midnight Israel time on Wednesday, exposes an alleged conspiracy between the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR, also known as Education for a Just Peace in the Middle East) and Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other designated terrorist organizations.
“This landmark case exposes a shocking and multi-layered planned conspiracy and campaign aimed at manipulating the public,” said Adv. Yifa Segal of the International Legal Forum.
Her group developed the evidentiary basis for the litigation, filed in federal court in Washington by the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) and 12 American citizens living in Israel.
It seeks to hold the American based 501(c)3 USCPR liable for conspiring to provide financial aid that supported a massive wave of Palestinian-launched incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, sparking hundreds of fires throughout the area and causing physical and mental harm to local residents.
“It cannot be that Hamas maintains its aggression toward Israel without those who provide material support to Hamas being responsible for paying for its violent acts of terror; not only for attacking Israeli citizens, but for also committing hideous environmental terror against Israel’s nature and wildlife, devastated by these fires,” said KKL-JNF World Chairman Daniel Atar. “The whole world is worried about the environment, trying to plant more and more trees, and these terrorists are destroying them with their kites.”
According to KKL-JNF, close to 2,200 fires destroyed more than 14,200 hectares (35,000 acres) of agricultural land, nature reserves and forest – including JNF forests – and harmed local animal life. The estimated value of this destruction is a minimum of $50 million, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The suit’s goal is to shut down USCPR so that it can no longer fund-raise on behalf of these terror organizations, and to receive compensation for the land and people harmed in the attacks.
Segal also noted that in addition to the civil case, the team is working with authorities in Israel and the US to launch a formal investigation into the BDS National Committee (BNC) and related organizations. They are also pushing to have the BNC designated as a terrorist entity.
The suit explains that the BNC, a Palestinian coalition led by designated terror organizations, has been using USCPR to funnel tax deductible donations to it under the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement campaign umbrella.
The plaintiffs are represented by ILF and Washington-based Heideman Nudelman & Kalik PC. ILF is an international legal arm fighting against terror, antisemitism and delegitimization of Israel. It has a network of more than 3,000 attorneys in 32 countries.
A series of reports by the Strategic Affairs Ministry has demonstrated that for years, boycott promoters have disguised themselves as human rights activists and managed to raise tens of millions of dollars and euros from Western countries and citizens who thought they were contributing to causes supporting justice and equality.
In June, the ministry announced that it had helped shut down some 30 financial accounts associated with BDS-promoting NGOs, including one belonging to BNC and hosted by Donorbox.
The fund-raising platform was approached by the Israel Law Center, Shurat Hadin, which used the ministry’s information – such as that BNC Secretary Salah Khawaja served a year in an Israeli prison due to contact with a hostile entity – to approach Donorbox and request that it close the organization’s account. The closure of the account is “preventing the organization from raising money by using a significant financial pipeline,” the ministry’s report explained.
“BNC has described the USCPR as its most important strategic ally and partner in the US,” according to the evidence.
USCPR did not respond to calls and emails for comment.
Segal admitted that the litigation may take a few years, and that it is likely USCPR will file a motion to dismiss the case within the next weeks or months.
However, she said she is confident the team will be successful.
“We have boxes of evidence to prove our case and we are very confident about this,” she told The Jerusalem Post. “The public, as well as decision makers worldwide, have the right to the truth and must be made aware of the true identity and agenda of those behind these efforts.”
“For far too long, the people of southern Israel have been traumatized by ongoing terrorist attacks seeking to destroy both their way of life and the surrounding forests and environment,” said Richard D. Heideman, senior counsel at Heideman. “The flow of money is fuel for terror. It is essential to take action against US groups that are complicit partners in funding terror that help enable foreign terror organizations to relentlessly wage a multifaceted campaign of terror against the citizens and lands of the sovereign State of Israel.”