The 11 families that brought the case against the Palestinian Authority and PLO to a New York court, which on Monday ruled that the Palestinian leadership was responsible for six terror attacks during the Second Intifada, included the four parents of US citizens murdered in the Hebrew University cafeteria bombing, the family of a man killed in a Jerusalem suicide attack on his way to work, and several others whose lives were irreparably damaged by injuries sustained during terror attacks over a decade ago.
The families on Monday were awarded $218.5 million in damages, which may be tripled under the US Anti-Terrorism Act. The PA and PLO have vowed to appeal the verdict, which incriminated them in the terror attacks in and around Jerusalem between 2001-2004.
While none of the families of the victims or survivors were present in the courtroom on Monday as the decision was announced, their attorneys were hailed the “historic” verdict.
The Israel Law Center’s Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who was involved in the case, said that while the verdict would not bring the defendants’ relatives back, it “is an important measure of justice and closure for them after their long years of tragic suffering and pain.”
Here are the stories of the 11 families behind the landmark trial:
Hebrew University Cafeteria bombing, July 31, 2002
The Carter family testified on behalf of their daughter, Dina, 37, who was killed in the attack. A North Carolina native, Carter had moved to Israel, converted to Judaism, and worked as a librarian at the university’s Givat Ram campus. That day, she had arrived on Mount Scopus to take a Hebrew language exam. She was survived by her parents and sister, with whom she had severed ties shortly after she moved to Israel. “Once she did immigrate and did convert, it was like she started her separate life,” her father, Larry Carter, said in 2002.
The Coulter family testified on behalf of their 36-year-old daughter Janis Ruth Coulter of New York, who was also killed in the attack. Janis Ruth Coulter, a Hebrew University alumna, had arrived in Israel a day before the deadly bombing, and was accompanying a group of US students on a trip.
Coulter, like Carter, converted to Judaism in 1996.
The parents of Benjamin Blutstein, 25, of Susquehanna Township, Pennsylvania were also listed as plaintiffs in the case.
Blutstein was taking a Hebrew course at the university at the time, and was scheduled to fly home for semester break that very day.
The family of dual French-US citizen David Gritz, 24, of Peru, Massachusetts, who was murdered in the cafeteria attack, also testified against the Palestinian leadership. Gritz had arrived in Israel several weeks before the attack to pursue a graduate degree in Jewish thought, despite his parents’ reservations that Israel was not safe.
The families’ testimony was not readily available.
Nine people were killed in the terror attack, which was claimed by Hamas, and 85 were injured.
Suicide bombing on No. 19 bus, January 29, 2004
The family of Canadian-born Yechezkel Isser Goldberg, 41, testified on his behalf. Goldberg, a resident of Beitar Illit and a former contributor to The Jewish Press, was survived by his wife and seven children. At the time of the attack, he was on his way to work where he counseled at-risk teenagers and their families, when he was killed by the massive bomb set off by the suicide bomber, a Palestinian Authority policeman from Bethlehem.
Karen Goldberg, the widow of the victim, said her children — who at the time were between the ages of 1 and 16 — suffered severe psychological trauma after their father was killed, including depression, trouble at school and anger issues, The New York Times reported. The youngest child did not speak until he was three years old, she said. His first words were “Did someone kill my father?”
Some 11 people were killed in the bus bombing on Gaza Street in Jerusalem and 50 were injured. The attack was claimed by Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and Hamas.
Suicide bombing on Jaffa Road, January 27, 2002
Rena and Mark Sokolow and their daughters Lauren and Jamie (a minor at the time) were the lead plaintiffs in the case. The four were injured in a bombing in the center of Jerusalem — carried out by a female Palestinian attacker — while on a family vacation. During the trial, Rena Sokolow, of Long Island, testified that she felt like she “was in a washing machine,” and that as she sat there bleeding, was certain she would die.
“I looked to my right and saw a severed head of a woman about three feet from me,” she said, according to The Associated Press.
Mark Sokolow had survived the 9/11 attacks a year before. He was on the 38th floor of the south tower when the first aircraft hit. After narrowly escaping the attack, he called his daughter in Israel to reassure her that he was okay, and shortly afterward decided to reschedule a family vacation from Florida to the Holy Land to recover.
Shooting on Jaffa Road, January 22, 2002
The Gould family, whose daughter Shayna was seriously injured in a shooting spree in central Jerusalem, were parties to the case. Shayna Gould, then a teenager, was shot in the chest while standing at a bus stop, and survived the attack despite having been brought to the hospital with no pulse.
“Shayna was shot in her left chest, she had her left lung removed as well as some of her ribs had to be removed [sic]. She still has shrapnel in her chest as well as shrapnel in her feet and legs. She was standing in a bus terminal when she was shot and other bullets shot up the bus terminal, so all of that collapsing metal ended up in her feet and legs,” the Israel Law Center said.
Also representing victims of that shooting, which killed two women and injured more than 40, was the Waldman family. Shmuel Waldman was critically injured in the shooting, which “shattered his tibia and left him with a tremendous amount of difficulties in every area of his life,” the legal counsel said.
Said Ramadan, the gunman, was a PA policeman, the Israel Law Center maintained. It said the attack was coordinated by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, and that Ramadan — who was killed in the shootout — was described in PA documents “as a martyr who died “performing his national duty.”
Suicide bombing at French Hill, June 19, 2002
The Mandelkorn family, and son Shaul Mandelkorn, argued that the damage sustained in the attack, which left Shaul seriously injured, ruined their lives.
“Shaul has changed dramatically – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Shaul went from being a well-rounded person to one who is broken, and has lost the feeling that he has something unique to give to his family and the world,” the Israel Law Center said.
Leonard Mandelkorn, the father of the victim, said: “The stress of Shaul is something out of — so out of this world, so unbelievable, the fact that the evil, how the terrorists succeeded in ruining our lives.”
Seven people were killed, and more than 35 injured, in the bombing. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades took credit for the attack.
Suicide bombing on King George St., March 21, 2002
Alan Bauer was walking down the street with his seven-year-old son when a terrorist blew himself up, killing three people. Bauer had two screws pass through his left arm, while his son Jonathan had a screw penetrate his brain. On Monday, Bauer said that his son still walks with a limp as a result of his injury.
The terrorist in question was a former Palestinian policeman, who was in PA custody on suspicion of planning a separate attack, and was released shortly before the bombing.
Bauer told Foreign Policy there was a “significant amount of evidence people associated with the PLO were involved in planning, financing, and executing the attack, and we kept pushing.” He described a “certain level of vindication” with Monday’s verdict, but said the State Department “was always against us” throughout the process. Still, the terror victim said he had no interest in seeing the PA dissolve as a result of the hefty penalty, since it would pose a burden to Israel.
Shooting on Jerusalem-Givat Ze’ev road, Jan. 8, 2001
Oz Joseph Guetta, 12, and his parents were hurt in after a terrorist and PA employee opened fire on their car. “Varda Guetta later identified one of the shooters as a member of the PA’s Force 17, a commando unit which guarded then PA-leader Yasser Arafat. Others in the attack later implicated the same man, Fawzi Murar, whose family received martyr payments after he died the next year,” the Israel Law Center said.
The terrorist was linked to Barghouti several times in the popular Palestinian leader’s indictment, and was reportedly killed in an Israeli airstrike in 2002.