Court orders PA to pay for deadly 2001 terror attack

Judge levies millions in damages for shooting that killed 3 Israelis after ruling that Palestinian Authority could not claim immunity because it is not a state

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

The security barrier near Beit Horon, on Route 443 in the West Bank. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
The security barrier near Beit Horon, on Route 443 in the West Bank. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

An Israeli court on Sunday ordered the Palestinian Authority and the perpetrators of a highway shooting attack in which three Israeli Jews were killed to pay NIS 62 million ($17.6 million) in compensation.

The PA will be charged 40 percent of the total, as well as a share of court and legal fees, which brings the total bill to NIS 74 million ($21.2 million).

Sharon and Yaniv Ben-Shalom and Doron Severi were shot dead by Palestinians at the beginning of the Second Intifada in August 2001 as they were driving on a Saturday night from Eilat in the south of the country to their home in the center.

A car full of Palestinians caught up with them on the 443 highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, part of which runs through the West Bank, and fired shots at them, killing the three.

Sharon Ben Shalom managed to save the lives of her two children, Efrat and Shahar, by covering them with her body, before succumbing to wounds from shots to her back.

The two children have since been raised by their paternal aunt Odelia Moshe Ben Shalom and her husband Atzmon Moshe.

Moshe Drori, Jerusalem District Court Vice President. (Youtube screenshot)

The ruling Friday by Jerusalem District Court Vice President Moshe Drori set the level of damages following a precedent-setting ruling in September 2014 in which the same judge found that the PA and the perpetrators were liable in tort to 16 plaintiffs made up of various Ben Shalom and Severi family members and the estates of the three victims.

Drori rejected the PA’s argument at the time that it was immune from tort claims because it was a state, charging that the authority was neither a state nor immune and did indeed carry responsibility for having financed and provided weapons for the attack.

A tort is a legal term describing a violation where one person causes damage, injury, or harm to another person.

On Friday, Drori ruled that punitive damages in the sum of NIS 10 million ($2.8 million) should be imposed for each of the three victims’ estates, NIS 6 million ($1.7 million) for each of the two orphans and NIS 5 million ($1.45 million) for each of the four remaining parents of the victims.

In doing so, he rejected the plaintiffs’ request that each defendant be ordered to pay each of the plaintiffs NIS 20 million ($5.7 million), noting that precedents set by US courts for amounts such as this had no bearing because tort compensation differed in the US and Israel.

The individual Palestinian defendants were named as Ahmad Taleb Mustafa Barghouti, Muhammad Rahman Salem Mislah, Husam ‘Aqel Rajab Shehadeh, Haytham Al-Mutbak Hamdan, Fares Sadeq Muhammad Ghanem and Ali Alian.

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