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Bush, Sharon and US defense
contractors sued

By Barbara Ferguson,
Arab News Correspondent
21 July 2002


A Washington-based human rights group filed a lawsuit this week against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President George Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and United States defense contractors as well as some Christian and Jewish organizations that are financially supporting the development of an illegal settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

The suit was filed for punitive damages and injunctive relief specifically demanding that the president and the secretary of state "cease providing military assistance to Israel until they have reported to Congress the misuse of American military assistance by Israel," as required under the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 on behalf of 21 Palestinians, most of them United States citizens.

"These plaintiffs are not militants even by Israel’s definition. None committed any crimes, before their houses were destroyed, killed, or assaulted.... ," said Attorney Stanley Cohen, who filed the lawsuit this week for Solidarity International for Human Rights, a non-profit Palestinian-American organization based in Washington.

The suit claims that "the state of Israel and its allies have engaged in genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, extra judicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, wrongful death, battery, assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence per se, trespass, and conversion during the massacres of Sabra and Shatila refugee camps from Sept. 16-18, 1982 until what is occurring to the present day."

Cohen, head of Solidarity’s team of lawyers, said the state of Israel has continued its assault against the Palestinian people and is the leading "sponsor of terrorism" in the world today.

In addition, he added, "the plaintiffs have suffered significant losses of life (of loved ones), limb, family, or property as a result of the continuing illegal acts of Israel and its armed forces or settler populations in the Occupied Territories, and in Sabra-Shatila twenty years earlier."

Cohen, who filed the a 140-page complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, said the significance of the lawsuit "is that it challenges the notion that the Western world always lives by the rule of law even while it has remained silent regarding the atrocities against the Palestinians."

The suit is not a class action, but Solidarity and Cohen say they plan to soon seek class action status on behalf of all the plaintiffs next month. The current plaintiffs are individual United States citizens or resident aliens, all of whom are Palestinian-Americans.

According to Solidarity, the plaintiffs claims arise out of torture, killing, and destruction of property by and with the support of the Israeli and United States governments, named leaders of these governments, named military corporations, named organizations, including one Israeli settlement and one Christian church, and named individual defendants.

Among the defendants are the state of Israel, Ariel Sharon, Natan Sharanski, Shimon Peres, George Bush, Colin Powell, the Boeing Company, McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems, the Halamish/Neve Settlement, Christ Lutheran Church, Central Fund for Israel, Rabbi Yosef Adler, Arnon Hiller, Joav Merrick, Ruth Kohn, Jay Marcus (the last eight of which are designated collectively as the "Settler Defendants").

In response to the expected filing, the Israeli Knesset passed a bill this week to protect Israel, its leaders and citizens from being subject to legal penalties based on any actions related to the Palestinians. They defined military actions as wide enough to encompass any activity in Palestinian areas including home demolitions, building roads, confiscating lands, bulldozing trees, and injuring or killing civilians (regardless of circumstances).

"Israel’s response is interesting for two reasons," Cohen told Arab News yesterday in a telephone interview. "First, they have always deemed themselves above the law when it comes to the rights of Palestinians, and immune from suit by Palestinians for damages in the Occupied Territories.

"As a matter of law, it is interesting, because prior to this bill, the existing law pretty much gave them carte blanche to do what they wanted," said Cohen. "Finally, it really doesn’t matter what they do in term of their protection in Israel, that law doesn’t apply in the US. The fact that they say that they are immune from suit against Palestinians, relative to the Intifada, may apply in Israel, but it doesn’t stop a US court from finding, to the contrary."

The plaintiffs are being allowed to file under pseudonyms, Cohen said. "The judge has granted the motion, which means that he met our burden of proof that these people, if named, could have faced retaliation by the IDF in the territories."

Cohen said they also plan on bringing an action asking the court to freeze the weapons delivered from the US to Israel. "Their helicopters, their jets, their F-16’s. We think we have the law on our side."


More Information:

The suit has been filed and to that end I will attach our most recent press release.While the current media response has been not been great we have received lots of support in lots of places. We will have a web site up and running in about ten days or so which will permit you to get copies of all our pleadings and info on how to help. In the meanwhile just spreading the word will help much.

Thanks for your interest and support,

Stanley L. Cohen

Law Offices of Stanley L. Cohen
351 Broadway,
Suite 300
New York,
N.Y. 10013
(212) 979-7572
Fax (212) 995-5574




A federal judge in Washington, D.C. decided today that Palestinian-Americans who are suing Israel, Ariel Sharon and others can proceed with the lawsuit by using pseudonyms instead of their real names.

Lead counsel, Stanley Cohen, had argued successfully that the plaintiffs and their witnesses had a well founded fear of retaliation including injury and death by the IDF if Israel learned the identity of the persons bringing the suit.

In a statement issued earlier today Mr. Cohen said that he was pleased that the Court "recognized that the plight of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories was so difficult and their lives so vulnerable at the hands of the IDF that their identities needed to be protected in order to pursue their rights in a U.S. Court."

The lawsuit was brought several days ago on behalf of a class of Palestinian Americans against some three defendants including Israel and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President George Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, several arms manufacturers in the United States and a number of U.S. based churches and synagogues that have supported settlements in the West Bank.

In this suit the plaintiffs seek damages and injunctive relief for, among other things, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and racketeering dating back as far as the massacre at Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon through the current Intifada.

The plaintiffs include Palestinian Americans who have been killed, injured, and tortured; who have been denied medical treatment; whose businesses and homes have been destroyed and whose homes and lands have been taken to establish illegal settlements in Palestine.

For further information contact the Law Offices of Stanley Cohen.