A masked Hamas man holds a gun 370 (R).
(photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)
Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter’s former bureau chief Mati Gill can
proceed with a lawsuit seeking to hold Arab Bank liable for providing material
support to Hamas, a US federal judge ruled on Wednesday.
Judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn denied Jordan- based Arab Bank’s motion to
dismiss the entire 2011 lawsuit filed by Gill, a dual citizen of the United
States and Israel who was wounded in 2008 by gunshots fired from Gaza into
Gill joined Dichter in leading a delegation of the Board of
Governors of the Canada Israel Committee to a lookout point over the Gaza Strip.
The group came under fire from a sniper with a machine gun, whose bullet hit
Gill’s thigh and exploded, creating damaging shrapnel.
“I think fighting
terrorism by targeting its financial bloodline is a worthy cause,” said Gill,
who recovered slowly but completely. “Terrorist organizations depend on their
financial capabilities and cash flow to fund their operations activities and
recruit and train new terrorists. If you can stop their life-blood and prevent
the Arab Bank, for example, from providing financial services to terrorist
organizations against US law, it’s an important moral victory in a battle within
the war on terror.”
Gill, 32, was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio,
lives in Tel Aviv and works for Teva Pharmaceuticals.
purporting to represent Hamas claimed credit for the shooting that wounded Gill
in a video Hamas posted on its website. 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, which is designated as a terrorist
organization by the US.
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
The judge said 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
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; and 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.
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 Hamasaffiliated groups. It could be among the first of
those to go to trial.
While Gill is only seeking monetary damages, there
are many terrorist victims whose cases are pending and who can receive
substantial financial relief, and Gill’s trial may influence the outcome of
“I hope my case will assist the people who desperately need
help – those who have lost loved ones or were severely injured in cases of
brutal terror,” he said.