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Families of those slain in 2014 synagogue attack sue Palestinian government groups

The victims’ surviving family members say the terrorists were acting with the approval of Palestinian officials.

DENVER (CN) — More than 70 surviving family members of the five people killed at an Israel synagogue in 2014 sued the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority in federal court Thursday for allegedly leading the terrorist attack.

Three U.S. citizens — rabbis Kalman Levine, Aryeh Kupinsky and Moshe Twersky — were killed on Nov. 18, 2014, in a terrorist attack alongside non-U.S. citizens Zidan Saif and Rabbi Abraham Goldberg. The five victims are collectively represented by more than 70 surviving relatives.

In their lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, the relatives say that under the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) planned and carried out the killings.

Armed with a meat cleaver, an ax and firearms, two men broke into the Congregation Bnei Torah synagogue in the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Har Norf at 6:55 a.m., during morning payers. The pair shot and stabbed praying worshippers, injuring seven and killing six.

The attackers were killed at the scene by police. A PFLP leader in Gaza celebrated them as “heroic.”

According to the lawsuit, the defendant groups used a “pay-for-slay” scheme, incentivizing people to carry out terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in exchange for compensation to their families. Congress has declared both the Palestine Liberation Organization and the PFLP terrorist groups.

The Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 as part of a peace treaty, the Oslo Accords, between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.

The lawsuit quotes a June 8, 2020, interview in which Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh as he vowed to continue paying prisoners and martyrs “until we are victorious, until the bloodbath stops and until the prisons are closed.”

The families say that, since its founding in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization worked to eradicate Jews from Israel and the West Bank, including Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, through acts of terrorism.

The lawsuit contends that both defendant groups could have prevented the 2014 attack by ending financial support to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or expelling its members. Following the Har Norf attack, the defendant groups instead continued providing support and praise to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the families say.

The lawsuit argues, “defendants fully supported and approved of the PFLP’s terrorist activities which … served the defendants’ goals and purposes.”

The plaintiffs seek damages and a trial under the federal Antiterrorism Act. They are represented by attorney Daniel Calisher of the Denver firm Foster Graham Milstein & Calisher LLP.

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Categories / Civil Rights, International, Personal Injury, Religion

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